Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Gravy

I believe I've finally done it.

I've been playing around with chili gravy for years. My battles are detailed here:

I've made chili gravy after chili gravy. I've experimented with using bacon grease as the fat, with canola oil as the fat, with more flour, less flour, more spices, less spices, with water as the liquid, with chicken broth as the liquid, etc. I could go on. This time however, I believe I've taken chili gravy as far as it can go. It's the best I've ever made. And I've got to share with you something I noticed, something I wasn't expecting-

The gravy was far better the next day. Unbelievably better. Something happened overnight. It was like the spices all gelled together and even the texture changed. From now on, I will be making chili gravy the day before and refrigerating it overnight. Oh, and the winning combination was a mixture of bacon grease, less flour, a smidge of chicken broth, mostly water, and my secret ingredients, tomato paste and achiote paste. 

So. Darn. Good.

By adding less flour, I think this is the thinnest you can make this sauce and still call it a gravy. I've tried my gravies with more flour and they always come out tasting too heavy and impossibly thick. Not appetizing. This gravy has more of a velvety feel than a thick feel. I think the small amount of bacon grease combined with a slight amount of chicken broth but mostly water, adds the perfect amount of seasoning. I found with using larger amounts of bacon grease and chicken broth that the gravy quickly becomes over-seasoned. I mean, super-duper salty. Yuck.  Using mostly water holds the seasoning in check. 

You know how Mexican restaurants are always serving enchiladas with lettuce and tomatoes on the side? I've always been the kid that piles those toppings right on. And now I do it at home too. Enchiladas aren't enchiladas in my book if they aren't garnished with lettuce and tomatoes. 

So... now that I've got chili gravy down, I can tell you straight up

This is not the sauce I've been looking for.

From reading my past struggles, you know I'm searching for a sauce I was served at an out-of-business Mexican restaurant as a child. I thought the sauce was a chili gravy. I'm not so sure anymore. After playing around with a million gravy recipes, I've come to realize the texture and consistency of that sauce was not gravy like. In any way. What does this mean?

More experiments :)

My last note- I used achiote paste in this recipe, which I don't believe is a common ingredient in the United States. I could be wrong on that. However, I've never found achiote paste in Kentucky. I happened to pick some up at a Mexican grocery store when I was visiting Oregon. If you can't find it in your regular grocery store, you can find it on Amazon. This is actually exactly what I used.

Time for an update on my car. If you read my Monday post, you know I was ready to either pitch a fit or move on with my life. Yesterday, I pitched a fit. First of all, the hubby called the dealership on Monday and they couldn't even bother to call him back. He finally got a hold of them yesterday, after leaving multiple messages. At which time the customer service rep informed him it was going to be another 2 weeks. They told him they hadn't found a transmission yet. The hubby really laid into them at this point, as we were told 2 weeks ago they were ordering a transmission that would arrive in 4 days. Come to find out they are looking for a used transmission? That really seems like something they should have told us, the fact that we would be without our primary vehicle for an entire month. Not only that, but the woman the hubby talked to was not apologetic at all. Her attitude was more like, "Yeah, so?" 

I'll tell you this, my very fist car was a Nissan. My family has owned multiple Nissans with no trouble. I really feel they should have got us a rental vehicle if they were going to keep the car for a month. I also feel they should have been upfront and honest about their protocol. They really shouldn't have said they were ordering a new part that would arrive in a couple of days when it's obvious that's not their practice at all. 

I'm afraid Nissan has lost a valuable, life-long customer. Sigh.

So I'm stuck at home for who knows how much longer. More enchilada sauce experiments to come, I guess :)

Happy Wednesday friends!

Ingredients (serves 2- 2 enchiladas per person):

Chili Gravy-
2 tbsp bacon grease
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 3/4 cup water
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt (add extra tsp of salt to taste, if needed)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp achiote paste
smallest pinch of sugar (seriously, the smallest)

2 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 burrito-size flour tortillas
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp cilantro, minced
chopped lettuce, tomato, sour cream (toppings- optional)


1. Prepare chili gravy- In medium size skillet, heat bacon grease over medium high heat. When hot, add flour. Stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth. Mixture will form a clumpy ball. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, moving roux around. Add 1/2 cup of water, stir until incorporated. Add the rest of the water in slow additions. When water is incorporated, add tomato paste. Add chili powder through sugar, stirring constantly to combine. Add more water if gravy is too thick. Turn heat to low, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Refrigerate overnight, or use immediately. If refrigerating overnight, warm sauce in skillet for a few minutes before use. 
2. Preheat oven to 350º.
3. Using an 8-inch square pan, spread about 1/2 cup of gravy on the bottom of the pan. Place tortillas on a plate, and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave. Place 1 tortilla on a clean surface, and spoon 1/2 cup of mozzarella in the middle of the tortilla. Roll tortilla up like a burrito and place in the pan. Repeat with other 3 tortillas. 4 tortillas should fit perfectly in an 8-inch pan. Pour desired amount of gravy over the top of the pan (you may have a little extra gravy). Top with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Don't over-bake, or your enchiladas will be dry (ewww). 
4. Distribute enchiladas between 2 plates. Top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream, if using. Serve immediately. 

Chili gravy recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan.
If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy these:


  1. That sure LOOKS like the right chili gravy that I know and love - As soon as I figure out where I can find me some Achiote paste, I will be making and eating these very soon! I'm sorry about your car woes - we have been Nissan people for decades as well but I'm telling you, if someone had acted that way with me, I would be calling Nissan about their franchisee and their attitude - and then ask THEM what they could do for me. Franchise owners don't want the "home office" calling them. I am pinning this to my Tex Mex Terrific Pinterest board because I am serious about making it - just like I did that wonderful General Tso's Chicken you made!

    1. Thanks Kelli! My dad advised us to contact the dealer and put a little pressure on them by saying we were going to contact Nissan directly. We still haven't gotten much response from the dealer. We did send an email to Nissan customer service, so hopefully they can contact us soon with some answers. My dad felt the same as you, he couldn't believe they acted like that. Anyways, we are hoping to resolve this soon! I hope you enjoy the recipe! :)

  2. Wow... I am so sorry about your car. They really are idiots if they treat a long time customer like that. Even a one time customer shouldn't be treated like that. I hope it all works out soon.

    Even if it isn't THE sauce you were looking for, it looks really good :)

    1. Thanks Rue, we're hoping of the best too :)

      As for the sauce, while it may not have been the one I was looking for, it was amazing. Definitely up there with some of my favorite chili gravies I've tried. Happy accident!

  3. I hope you got your Nissan fixed by now - also, I am having the worst time finding Achiote paste. In a land where there are Mexican sections even in the local 7-11, I can't find it so far but today I'm heading to the Mercado in town...........surely I can get it there! I want to make these tonight if I'm not too tired. It's the only day this week with no ice, no snow, and temps in the 30's so I can take my mom around to do of those things is get that achiote paste! I'll let you know how it goes!

    1. Guess what? We picked the car up this morning! Woot woot! I'm unable to find achiote paste in Kentucky, if I needed more I would reorder from Amazon (or wait till I go to Oregon!). Here's the link if you want to purchase from Amazon:

      I hope you find it! Have a great day Kelli! :)

  4. As a life-long native New Mexican, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out that enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. You have made yourself some delicious-looking enchiritos here!

    1. That's a good point. I think I read that while I was doing so much entomatada research. I definitely had forgot that though. I'll have to update with corn tortillas :-)

      Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a great day!

  5. We call that “chili goo” around here, where enchiladas come covered in creamy (not runny) chili con carne with white American cheese on the inside and topped with cheddar cheese and onions.

    1. I like that! Chili goo 😂 Sounds delicious to me! 😋


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