REAL Red Enchiladas

And, yes – I do mean real red enchies!  Let me explain.  Born and raised in southern NM, my tongue and tummy quickly adapted to spicy chile, red or green of course.  Chile rellenos, tostadas compuestas, huevos rancheros, tamales, and last but not least – enchiladas.  After spending two decades in NM, I moved to northern AZ for school.  After about two months, my palate was bored with the bland; so I was excited to have found out about the ‘best mexican food’ restaurant in town.  While sipping on a margarita, I scanned the menu and drooled over the options.  Finally I decided on a combination plate of red enchiladas and a chile relleno.  When the food arrived, my eyes were wide with amazement.  Amazed at how different it looked and far from what I expected.  The relleno first was a true disappointment.  It looked to be a canned whole green chile, stuffed with cheese and wrapped with a fried egg.  What the what?  I still gave it a shot, but it never made it down the hatch and found a new home in my napkin.  On to the enchies, surely this would be the flavor I was missing from home.  Ummmm, no, the red sauce tasted like a funked up salty red gravy.  EW!  Needless to say, that day I found out the mexican food is truly regional.  I did eventually find some mexican food restaurants in AZ that were better than my first try, however, nothing (in my opinion) compares to the mexican fare of southern NM.

That said, here’s a recipe for Red Enchiladas!


  • 1 dozen dried red chile pods (mirasol pods are the spiciest I’ve found)

  • 3 c chicken or veggie broth
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 c grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • Season to taste – I use mexican oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and 1 packet of Goya Sazon season




Boil chile in broth for at least 30 minutes, or until soft.  While chiles boil, combine garlic, onion, tomatoes and seasoning in pan with a bit of olive oil.  Saute veggies and seasoning about 5 – 7 minutes, remove from heat.  When chiles are softened, remove stems from and transfer entire mixture to a blender or use a hand-held mixer.  I usually opt for the blender, as red chile stains something fierce.  Pulse until mixture is smooth and transfer back to pot, also add veggies and seasoning.  Use a thickening agent such as flour or cornstarch.  Taste your sauce and season as needed.  I normally will add either homemade refried beans, whole beans or zucchini to make this casserole more filling.

While sauce is thickening, prepare a glass baking dish with a bit of olive oil.  Ladle a bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  You can use corn or flour tortillas, but I always opt for the corn (hint – Arizona brand corn tortillas are gluten-free).  To soften my tortillas, I rub a bit of olive oil on each one.  Layer the bottom of the pan with 6 corn tortilla, ladle sauce (and veggies or beans if you prefer a heftier meal), then top with a thin layer of shredded cheese.  Repeat as many times as you like.  I usually only have two layers since it’s just the hubby and I eating.  Otherwise, we’d have more leftovers than we can handle.  Top the last layer with cheese, and pop the baking dish in the oven and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes, slice and serve!  Traditional toppings are lettuce, tomato, onion and sour cream.  Of course, guacamole makes a great topping as well.  I like to serve mine with a southwestern style cole slaw, spanish rice, and/or beans.  Another great side is calabacitas (recipe coming soon)!



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