Monday, March 25, 2013

One Great . . . red enchilada sauce

On the list of Permanent Pantry Staples, corn tortillas are always in my refrigerator. They usually last a good long time without getting moldy and you can always make some form of a quesadilla with there's just flat nothing left in the house to eat. The final reason: You can turn leftover anything into enchiladas, if you have enchilada sauce.

So let's turn our attention to enchilada sauce. Looking around for a recipe to use leftover pork carnitas from Lupita, the carneceria at North Tryon and Eastway, I had almost everything I needed -- except some form of enchilada sauce. But I had bags of roasted tomato sauce in the freezer, and that was all it took. Homemade tomato sauce is always better, but you can do this with a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce or  diced tomatoes, too.

Red Enchilada Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups or 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Warm the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the chili powder and flour, making a paste, and cook for a minute or two. Working a little at a time, whisk in the tomato sauce and then the chicken broth. Add the cumin, garlic powder and salt. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook about 15 minutes. Cool and use right away, or refrigerate up to two days.

To make enchiladas, stir about 1/4 up into about 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken or pork (or use roasted vegetables). If you have it, stir in some tomatillo salsa.  Roll in tortillas, softened according to package directions. Place tightly in a baking dish, seam down. Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle generously with cheese (a mixture of Monterrey Jack and mozzarella, or crumbled cojita or queso fresco). Bake 25 minutes, then top with minced cilantro and red onion if you have them.

YIELD: 3 cups sauce, 4 servings of enchiladas.