Perfect Santa Fe Enchiladas

Stacked Red Chile Enchiladas From my new bookazine, Popular Plates Fiery Foods, on newsstands everywhere (see earlier post), here is one of my favorite recipes, Perfect Santa Fe Enchiladas.  Forget ground beef–it’s so, well, mundane.  Go for the machaca instead and you won’t be sorry.

Perfect Santa Fe Enchiladas

Cooking the perfect Santa Fe Enchiladas from scratch is a bit of an ordeal in itself, but well worth the time and trouble. If you have extra machaca and sauce, they both freeze well. Serve with refried beans. In northern New Mexico, home-fried potatoes are also served.

Machaca Shredded Beef

  • 3-pound arm roast
  • Water
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green chile
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Place the roast in a large pan with water to cover and simmer until tender and the meat begins to fall apart, about 3 to 4 hours. Remove the roast from the pan, remove the fat and bone, and shred the meat by hand or with a fork.

Return the meat to the pan, add the remaining ingredients, stir well, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed by the meat, about 30 minutes.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Classic New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

  • 20 dried whole red New Mexican chiles
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups water

Place the chiles on a baking pan and put in a 250 degree F. oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the chiles smell like they are toasted, taking care not to let them burn. Remove the stems and seeds and crumble the pods into a saucepan.

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth and strain if necessary. If the sauce is too thin, place it back on the stove and simmer until it is reduced to the desired consistency.

Yield: 4 to 4 1/2 cups

The Enchiladas

  • 12 blue corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce for garnish
  • Finely chopped tomatoes for garnish

Place a little oil in a small skillet and heat up until almost smoking. Using tongs, fry each tortilla in the oil for about 5 seconds a side, turning once. Do not overcook or the tortillas will be tough. Drain the tortillas on paper towels. Add more oil as needed when frying the tortillas.

To assemble the enchiladas, place a single tortilla on an oven-proof plate. Spread about 1/4 cup of machaca beef over the tortilla, and sprinkle on some cheese. Spread about 3 tablespoons of chile sauce over the cheese. Place a second tortilla over the first, pour about 3/4 cup chile sauce over it, and top with about ½ cup of cheese over it. Repeat with the remaining 5 plates.

Place the plates in a 350 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the lettuce and tomatoes.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

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