A few months ago, I proudly proclaimed us an “enchilada house”. After years of believing that they were restaurant-only food, we all decided that my homemade ones were actually better than the ones at our favorite Mexican spot (read: we can now stuff our faces silly with enchiladas at home whenever I’m not too lazy to make them!!) That’s why I’m so excited today to add another enchilada recipe to the repertoire: these incredibly tasty and unique Al Pastor-Style Beef Enchiladas, courtesy of The Half-Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard. TGIFF!! (Thank God It’s Famous Fridays)
If you’re looking for a cookbook filled with comfort recipes that will make you want to get into the kitchen and turn out home-cooked meals that are anything but ordinary, Half Baked Harvest has got you covered. The author Tieghan, who also writes a really popular blog, loves to put creative spins on ordinary dishes and manages to take gorgeous, mouth-watering photos of all those creative spins, which means that you’ll be drooling as you leaf through this very fun and accessible book! There are so many recipes I’ve been itching to try, like Fajita Steak Salad topped with spicy, crispy sweet potato fries, Salted Brioche Cinnamon Rolls, Wild Rice and Havarti-Stuffed Acorn Squash and PB & J Grilled Cheese to name a few. And I know they’re all going to be great because this off-the-beaten path Al Pastor-Style Enchiladas was virtually inhaled by my home judges!!
Let me gush about them a little bit—the enchiladas, not the judges (though I’m perfectly capable of gushing over them now and then too!) First off, do you know what Al Pastor-Style means? Generally, it involves pork that is marinated and cooked with onions, chiles and pineapple so that there’s that sweet/spicy thing going on. Here, we’re using ground beef which is a little bit unusual but makes the cooking of the filling, so easy and so, so delicious!!
Also, you generally see Al Pastor associated with tacos and burritos—here it finds new heights mixed together with a quick-to-whip -up, homemade red enchilada sauce—yeah, you could use a ready made jar of it, but you really shouldn’t—I think it’s what helps to make these so special. One bite and you’ll be left wondering why Al Pastor enchiladas haven’t been a major part of your life!!
These are spicy but not in a steam-out-of-your-ears way and the generous amount of melted cheese and pineapple chunks in the filling, as well as in the sauce you cook the meat in, goes a long way to achieving a blissful balance. Even a spice scaredy-cat like me can handle them and keep going back for more!!
So... pick up a copy of Half Baked Harvest and have a great and delicious summer weekend—think we’re going to keep it fairly low key and maybe cook up a few goodies if we get the chance. I’ve yet to make anything with peaches this summer and it’s almost the middle of August! Yikes! Got to get going on that front. Laters, alligators!!
Half Baked Harvest’s Al Pastor-Style Beef Enchiladas-Famous Fridays
Makes 6 generous servings (you could definitely stretch this to 8 if you’re not feeding a bunch of teenagers)
Prep Time for Enchilada Sauce: 10 minutes, plus another 20 minutes of hands-free cooking; Prep Time for Enchiladas: 30 minutes; Bake Time: 30 minutes
For the Enchilada Red Sauce
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped (use 2 if you want a lot of heat)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
For the Enchiladas
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo (use 2 if you like things very hot)
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 generous cups fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 sweet onion, cut in half and into thin half-moon slices
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped and divided (you could sub in an equal amount of fresh cilantro here too)
- 1 ½ cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup homemade red enchilada sauce (see above) or an equal amount of store bought
- 18 corn tortillas
1. For the Enchilada sauce: Place the oil and flour in a medium saucepan and whisk together over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the mixture looks lightly golden. Add in the tomato paste, chili powder, chipotle pepper, garlic powder and salt and cook for 1 minute, stirring until the mixture is thick. Slowly whisk in the broth until the mixture is smooth.
2. Lower the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. If not using right away, let cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month. This recipe makes more than you will likely need for the enchiladas unless you like a lot of sauce.
3. For the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a lasagne-sized baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
4. Place the garlic cloves, chili powder, paprika, chipotle, pineapple juice, vinegar and 1 cup of the pineapple chunks into a blender or food processor and blend together until smooth. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet, brown the beef and onions over medium-high heat, cooking for about 10 minutes and using a wooden spoon to break up any clumps. Lower the heat and add half the the pineapple sauce mixture, the rest of the pineapple and the jalapeño. Let simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the sauce has reduced and coats the beef. Stir in ¾ of the parsley or cilantro and half the shredded cheeses and remove from the heat.
6. Pour a generous amount of the red enchilada sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan, spreading it out evenly. One at a time, place a generous dollop of the beef mixture onto a tortilla and roll it up, placing it seam-side down in the pan. Wedge the tortillas close to each and don’t worry if a little of the filling escapes. Pour the remaining pineapple sauce mixture over the top and more enchilada sauce too if you like. Sprinkle the remaining cheese across the top.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and everything is hot. Sprinkle the remaining parsley or cilantro across the top and serve.
8. If you like, you can make and assemble the entire dish up to Step 7 early in the day, cover and chill it and then pop it in the oven before dinner. You may just need to tack on a few extra minutes if the casserole is cold.
Note: Recipe adapted from the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard. I tinkered a lot with the spices and proportions.