If you’ve been a reader for a while, you might remember a post I did quite awhile back for Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells. That recipe took a Tex-Mex flavored ground beef filling and stuffed it into jumbo pasta shells. What you ended up with was an Italian-looking recipe that tasted decidedly South of the border. A weird fusion, I know, but extremely delicious.
Today’s Ground Beef Enchiladas are a spin-off of those Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells. I took the ground beef filling we loved in the shells and rolled it into whole wheat tortillas – something we have on hand much more frequently than jumbo shells. The result? Recipe adaptation awesomeness. The flavorful meat filling and the easy, homemade enchilada sauce worked just as well with tortillas as with pasta. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing, crowd-feeding recipe for your Cinco de Mayo festivities, look no further than these ground beef enchiladas.
P.S. Please do not be alarmed by the extremely shiny cheese topping my enchiladas. I was experimenting with a new brand of reduced-fat cheese. While the cheese did actually taste okay, it formed that lovely, shiny, rubbery layer that low-fat cheeses tend to do. Lesson learned.
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Ground Beef Enchiladas
Adapted from Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells
For the Sauce:
1 large (29 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Filling:
1 T. canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 poblano or green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 oz. cream cheese
10 to 12 flour tortillas (you may need more or less depending on the size)
1 to 2 cups cheese, shredded (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc.)
Optional garnish: chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the filling. Discard the bay leaf before assembling the enchiladas.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion and poblano/green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften.
Add the ground beef and garlic. Cook the beef until browned, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain off any accumulated fat.
Add the water, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and brown sugar to the beef mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. Taste again, and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Allow the beef mixture to cool slightly, then add the cream cheese. Stir to combine.
To assemble the enchiladas, spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Fill the tortillas with a little bit of the meat mixture.
Place the tortillas seam-side down in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the tortillas. (You may have a little more than you need.) Sprinkle cheese over the top of the enchiladas.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the enchiladas are bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve hot, topped with chopped cilantro, if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.