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Tex-Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy have corn tortillas stuffed with gooey cheese and smothered in the most amazing brown chili gravy. Don’t forget the sprinkle of fresh onions on top!
This dish reminds me of my college days, when my roommates and I made a weekly trek to a delicious Tex-Mex restaurant right around the corner from our apartment.
It was there that I first enjoyed the most amazing cheese enchiladas – a simple dish of corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and smothered in a rich, brown chili gravy before baking in a hot oven. The dish is served – hot and bubbly from the oven – with fresh, chopped onions. You can add pickled jalapenos on top of each serving if you’d like an additional kick of flavor.
Chili Gravy has been called the “soul of Tex-Mex” cuisine and recipes date back to the late 1800’s. It’s sort of a cross between a red enchilada sauce and a brown gravy. Source: Barry Popik
Why You’ll Love Tex-Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy
- The flavor combination is fantastic! Savory corn tortillas, gooey cheese, and a rich, brown chili gravy is perfectly complemented by the bite of the fresh onion and pickled peppers.
- It’s easy to make and perfect for Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
- You can make the chili gravy ahead of time – and always have some on hand when the craving strikes!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Dried Chiles – We used a combination of dried California chiles and dried Pasilla chiles. (These are sold in plastic bags in the produce section of the supermarket.) Other chili gravy recipes simply use only chili powder in their gravy, but we liked the extra depth of flavor and thickness that the dried chiles add to this recipe. Ancho peppers can be used instead of Pasilla for a milder spice level.
- Beef Stock – For a deep, delicious brown gravy flavor. You can swap in chicken or vegetable stock if you have that on hand, but beef should be used for the best flavor.
- Spices – You’ll include a combination of ground cumin, Mexican oregano, dried chili powder, plus salt and pepper in the sauce.
- Corn Tortillas – We used white corn tortillas, but yellow can also be used. Don’t be tempted to swap in flour tortillas for this recipe – it just won’t be the same.
- Cheese – We used Monterey Jack cheese for its mild flavor and easy-melting properties.
- Onions – Choose white onion for the gravy and yellow onion for assembling the enchiladas. Chopped yellow onion will also be served on top.
- Lard – This is used in both the sauce (to sauté) and to fry the tortillas before assembling the enchiladas.
- Pickled Jalapenos – Optional garnish when serving.
Special Tools Needed
- Medium Saucepan
- Blender or Immersion Blender
- Strainer – Either a mesh strainer with wider holes, or a colander. This will be used to filter out the solids from the gravy.
- 9×13-inch Casserole Dish
- Small Sauté Pan
How do I make Tex-Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy?
- Boil beef stock, dried chili peppers, white onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and dried chili powder in a saucepan for one minute. Turn off heat and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
- Make a roux with melted lard and flour, cooking until it turns a golden color.
- Puree the pepper mixture in a blender, then return to the saucepan and mix in the roux. Cook to thicken, then strain the gravy to remove any solids. Spoon some of the gravy into the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Fry each corn tortilla (just long enough to soften), then fill with shredded cheese and chopped onion and roll.
- Place the filled enchiladas in the gravy-lined casserole dish. Ladle more sauce over the top and sprinkle with more cheese and onions.
- Bake until hot and bubbly.
- Serve immediately with more sauce and onions on top. Add diced pickled jalapenos on top if you’d like.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Tex-Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy ahead of time? You can make the chili gravy ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can assemble the entire dish a few hours before baking, but it’s best assembled and baked right away.
- Can I freeze the leftovers? You can, but this dish is best freshly-made.
- How do I reheat any leftovers? We prefer reheating the dish in the oven, but microwaving individual portions will also work. (Just note that the tortillas will be very soft when microwaved.)
You might like these other Tex-Mex dishes:
- Tex-Mex Sheet Pan Chicken Pizza
- Tex-Mex Beef and Sausage Pie
- Texas Chili
- One Pot Tex-Mex Pasta
- Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken Stew
We love seeing what you made! Tag us on Instagram at @afamilyfeast or hashtag #afamilyfeast so we can see your creations!
Tex-Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy
3 1/2 cups beef stock
3 California dried chiles, stems removed and seeded
3 Pasilla or Ancho dried chiles, stems removed and seeded
1 cup white onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon dry chili powder
5 tablespoons lard
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lard
10 corn tortillas (we used white)
12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
1 cup yellow onion, diced small
Pickled jalapenos (mild or hot – your choice), chopped for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, place stock, dried chili peppers, white onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, and dried chili powder and bring to a boil.
- Boil for one minute then cover and let sit for 30 minutes off heat.
- While the mixture sits, make a roux by melting the 5 tablespoons of lard in a small sauté pan over medium heat and once melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook and stir for about five minutes until the mixture turns a golden tan color. Remove from heat.
- After 30 minutes, puree the liquid mixture with a blender or an immersion blender.
- Return heat to the pan and stir in the cooked roux and cook over medium heat for two minutes.
- Pour the gravy through a strainer and press through with a rubber spatula then discard the solids left in the strainer. What remains is the finished chili gravy.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Melt the tablespoon of lard in the microwave.
- In a small sauté pan over medium high heat, brush the pan bottom with some of the melted lard and heat the tortillas one at a time, for about 30 seconds on each side. Keep warm in a foil packet lined with a paper towel. I made my packet wide for two stacks; one side for the heated stack and the other side for each new cooked tortilla I added.
- Ladle about a cup of the gravy into the bottom of a 9X13 casserole dish.
- Lay out the ten tortillas on your counter and divided all but one cup of the cheese down the center of each.
- Sprinkle on about a tablespoon of the yellow onions over the cheese and then roll each.
- Place seam side down into the prepared casserole dish and ladle sauce over the tops, saving about a cup of sauce to serve on the side.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops then about half of the remaining onion.
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Serve with more onion over each portion as well as chopped pickled jalapenos and the additional sauce on the side.
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