his recipe for Mexican "Lasagna" Enchiladas Casserole is a tribute to two great ladies and cooks, my mother, and my mother-in-law. A little American transplant cooking style, combined with down-home Tex-Mex. It's simple to put together and I'm sure it will quickly become a family favorite
The story behind Mexican "Lasagna" Enchiladas Casserole
My husband was raised on Cheese Enchiladas.
His mother Gail was from Texas and would make them at least once a month topped with her Tex-Mex Enchilada Sauce or Gravy. As the story goes, everyone liked something different inside of their enchilada - his dad had to have black olives but did not want chilies or onions. His sister liked the onion and chilies, but not black olives. Gail was a purest... cheese only. My husband, the adventurous eater wanted “all of the above”. In order to keep tabs on what was in what, she used toothpicks, one toothpick for Bill's, two for Stacy's and three for BB's. It was quite the sight to see the pan come out of the oven with all these toothpicks sticking out.
Mexican "Lasagna" Enchiladas Casserole is a tribute to two great ladies and cooks, my mother, and my mother-in-law.
I was raised on Beef Enchiladas.
My mother, being German was not so familiar with Mexican food so she would use a canned enchilada sauce. Living in the Los Angeles area, it was not hard to find brands like Las Palmas or La Victoria. which are made as an enchilada sauce should be made, with chilies, not tomatoes. She would fill her tortillas with seasoned meat, diced black olives, and onion. Open the can, pour over the sauce, add some shredded cheese, bake, and voila - enchiladas!
I make both cheese and meat enchiladas using either Gail’s gravy or canned sauce, depending on my mood. But the other day I thought, “heck, why not mix it together? The best of both worlds”.
So I did.
And that's how this recipe for Mexican "Lasagna" Enchiladas Casserole came to be. This casserole is best made with older, not so fresh, tortillas. And yes, I'm going to insist on corn, even though I know there are parts of this country where it's hard to find them. I just don't think flour tortillas would give the right flavor or texture. But if that's all you have, and that's what you are used to...give it a go and let me know how it turns out.
I love the layers in this casserole, each bite is full of enchilada flavor! It goes together so easily I'm sure it will soon become a family favorite. It's also perfect for taking to a pot-luck.
I served Mexican “Lasagna” Enchiladas Casserole with a simple Cara's Mexican Style Broken Rice that my granddaughter taught me how to make, a winning combo.
Mexican "Lasagna" Enchiladas Casserole
- 1 tablespoon oil I used grapeseed
- ½ medium onion diced about ½ cup
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder or to taste
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder or to taste
- ½ teaspoon oregano or to taste
- ¼ cup water or beef broth
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 3.8 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
- ½ pound grated cheddar cheese
- ½ pound grated jack cheese
- 2 10 ounce cans prepared enchilada sauce, or 1 can prepared enchilada sauce and 1 recipe Gail's Enchilada Sauce or Gravy
- 10 6-inch corn tortillas
- ¼ cup oil for frying tortillas
- Heat the oven to 375º FHeat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, when hot add the ground beef and the onions, cook, breaking apart the meat with the back of your spoon until it is just cooked and the onions are soft. Add the salt, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Stir well then add the water or broth and let it simmer until the liquid has evaporated.
- While the meat mixture cooks, roast the poblano over an open flame or under the broiler. Place in a cover bowl and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Once it has cooled, remove the skin and seeds and roughly dice. Do not rinse the pepper as this dilutes its flavor, a little char left is fine.
- While the pepper is resting, and the meat is cooking, heat ¼ cup oil in a small sauté pan. Fry each tortilla until just beginning to crisp, but not browned or hard. Remove to paper towels to drain, continue until all have been cooked.
- To assemble: If using both sauces, mix together. Cover the bottom of an 8 x 8 x 2 baking dish with a thin layer of the enchilada sauce; place two whole tortillas on one side, slightly overlapping, cut one of the tortillas in half and place ½ on the other side, so the whole bottom is covered. Spread ⅓ of the meat mixture over the top, sprinkle ⅓ of the cheese over, and top with the poblano. Make another layer of tortillas, (put the whole ones on the opposite side and the halves over what was the whole ones on the first layer); top with ⅓ of the meat mixture, ⅓ of the cheese and sprinkle the olives over the top. Pour some of the enchilada sauce to cover well. Make a third layer with all four of the remaining tortillas, overlapping as needed. Top with remaining meat mixture and then the rest of the enchilada sauce, finishing with remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and it is bubbly hot, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. (Always remember to serve on warmed plates, so when you take the casserole out of the oven, stick your plates into the hot oven for 2 – 3 minutes).