Yield: 6 servings
|Ground meat (mixed ground beef and ground pork)
|Cumin (or more)
|Wine or sherry
|Tomato sauce (1 small can)
|Monterey jack cheese
|Sour cream (optional)
Chop onion and garlic; place them in a frying pan with the ground meats. Saute them without adding fat. When meat is brown, add the chopped green pepper and most of the cilantro leaves and cook for another minute or two (until green pepper is cooked bright green).
Drain well, then add (about) several tablespoons of the enchilada sauce and cook for a few minutes longer. Set aside.
Make the sauce: into a saucepan, pour the remaining enchilada sauce (from the can). Add the can of tomato sauce. Add the wine or sherry, cumin, salt, red pepper, and cook for 10-30 minutes (depending on how compulsive you are). The flavor should be smooth (not gritty) and spicy.
Collect together everything that you will need for assembling the enchiladas. Grate the cheese onto wax paper. Have the olives handy (you'll be cutting them in half). Lightly oil the baking dish.
The frying pan from which you drained the meat mixture still has some of its grease left in it. Take 4 tortillas from their package, separate them from each other, then one-by-one, slide them over the frying pan surface on each side, to moisten them slightly with the grease. That done, stack them in the frying pan and heat them until they are soft and pliable.
The final assembly requires a bit of manual dexterity and speed: Take the tortillas, and place them (bumpy side out) in the oven dish, curved into a "U" shape, each right next to its neighbor. (At this point, start heating your next 4 tortillas in the frying pan.
I usually wind up preparing 10 tortillas in all.) Place a small handful of cheese into the U of each tortilla, followed by an appropriate amount of meat mixture, and finally several olive halves. Then curl one end of the tortilla around to tuck into the opposite end, and carefully rotate it to conceal the seam. Each tortilla should be filled firmly (not too loosely) but not overflowing the ends.
Once all the filling is used up and the enchiladas are now filled tortillas, pour the sauce over the top, helping it run into all the crevices. Sprinkle lightly with remaining cilantro leaves. 10 Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, just until the tortillas are soft and the sauce is slightly bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve, topped with a dollop of sour cream. If you fail to drain the meat well enough, the enchiladas will be greasy. If over-baked, it tastes all right, but the tortillas lose their texture. In general, however, the recipe is quite forgiving in its proportions. Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your own tolerance for hot spice. I like to assemble this recipe at least 3 hours before baking to give the flavors a chance to blend. Left refrigerated for a day, the seasoning is even less aggressive. Served with a salad (and some Mexican beer), it's a complete meal.
* Enchiladas with meat, black olives and cheese -- For many years, I've been involved in Latin American "solidarity work" here in the San Francisco area, and as a result, I have learned some of its culinary pleasures. This recipe originated from the back of a can of enchilada sauce in Mexico, but was refined by a special Chilean refugee friend who won a scholarship to the California Culinary Academy (in San Francisco) and now cooks ever-so-lusciously. Yield: Serves 6-8.
: Difficulty: moderate.
: Time: 1 hour preparation, 30 minutes baking.
: Precision: Approximate measurement OK, but time the baking carefully.
: Karen Kerschen
: EECS Department, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., USA : karen@...
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