Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chili Con Queso Enchiladas with Brown Chili Gravy

I am not a big baker, so I knew the Bob's Red Mill Flour Challenge was going to be difficult. There are some great experienced bakers in 37 Cooks and when the challenge was announced, they quickly started volunteering to make breads, cakes, muffins and cookies. What unique thing could I do to showcase the flour? What was my strength? Booom, it came to me! How about roux which incorporates flour and is the base for many gravies and sauces. I have been making roux for gumbo since I was a young bride, having married into a family of Cajuns. My recipe will use both a white roux and brown roux. The white roux will be the base for a delicious, unique Chili con Queso and the brown roux will be the base for a Tex-Mex original, Brown Chili Gravy.

My inspiration for the filling of my enchiladas comes from Felix's Mexican Food Restaurant. Felix's was a Houston institution and one that my family had gone to for over 60 years. They have been closed for over five years, but I still miss their wonderful Mexican food. Felix's Chili con Queso had flour in it and was very thick. While I'm not making their exact recipe, it definitely is my inspiration. 

I wish there was a recipe out there for Felix's Brown Chili Gravy, I have not been able to find one. However, Rob Walsh, who has researched and studied the roots of Tex-Mex cuisine, has included a recipe that is very close in his books, The Tex-Mex Cookbook and Texas Eats

This recipe was created for the Bob's Red Mill Flour Challenge. I had never used chili con queso for an enchilada filling. You are going to have to read all the way down through the ingredients and directions to learn if it was a winner or loser.

Chili Con Queso Enchiladas with Brown Chili Gravy
by Linda

Chili Con Queso (inspired by Felix's Mexican Restaurant in Houston, Texas):

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 Cubanelle sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium tomato, skin removed and chopped
1 to 2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 cube Dorot Garlic
Salt and pepper to your taste
2 cups grated white and yellow American cheese, 1 cup each, mixed (buy from the deli section and grate yourself, no packaged)

1) Using a non-stick pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium heat.
2) Add onions, jalapeno and peppers. Saute 3-4 minutes until tender.
3) Add tomato and saute another minute.
4) Place sauteed vegetables on plate, set aside.
5) Heat 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil in the same pan.
6) Reduce heat to low and stir in flour, combining into a paste, do not let it brown (white roux.)
7) Slowly add milk. I used about 1 1/2 cups for a nice, creamy consistency.
8) Add sauteed vegetables,cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Combine well.
9) Add the cheese, stirring until it's melted and incorporated with the other ingredients.
10) Remove from heat.

Brown Chili Gravy
Adapted from Texas Eats, Original Chili Gravy Page 112:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cube Dorot Garlic
2 Tablespoons The Spice House Chili Con Carne Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1. Using a non-stick pan, heat vegetable oil.
2. Adjust flame to medium and add flour.
3. Stir, stir, stir until you get a nice paste, that is dark brown (brown roux.)
4. Reduce heat and add pepper, salt, garlic, chili con carne seasoning and oregano.
5. Slowly stir in about 1 1/2 cups of broth.
6. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add additional broth to get desired consistency. You don't want it thick, but you don't want it too thin.
7. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To make the enchiladas:

1 recipe for Brown Chili Gravy
1 recipe for Chili Con Queso
6 corn tortillas
1 cup of grated white and yellow American cheese, 1/2 cup of each, mixed
1 bunch of green onions, cleaned and chopped for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spread 1/2 cup of the chili gravy into the bottom of a 1 3/4 quart buttered casserole dish.
3. Fill corn tortilla with 2-3 heaping Tablespoons of chili con queso.
4. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down into casserole dish.
5. Repeat until all tortillas are in your casserole dish. 6 fit perfectly in my dish.
6. Pour remaining chili gravy over the top, cover completely.
7. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
8. Bake 20 minutes, or until bubbling and cheese is melted.
9. Garnish with green onions.
10. Serve piping hot.

Tips: If your corn tortillas start to break when you go to roll them, dip them in warm chicken broth to soften. Some people use oil or sauce to dip them in. I prefer the broth, when necessary.

So now the answer to the big question. Was the Chili Con Queso Enchiladas with Brown Chili Gravy successful? Yes, it was and I learned some different things using the two different types of flour. I know making a dark roux is difficult because you risk burning as you try to get that perfect dark, rich color. Obtaining that color is very easy when using the wheat flour. It became a nice medium brown color within the first minutes of mixing it with the oil. Within 3-4 minutes, I had the nice dark brown. The time was much shorter than white flour and my pan didn't get smoking hot in an attempt to get it dark brown, like it will with white flour. Thus, you have a less chance of burning. The flavor was a little different, but worked well with all the spices I added.

If I made enchiladas again, I would use the Brown Chili Gravy. I would probably fill my tortillas with spicy ground beef because that is my husband's favorite. I would definitely make the Chili con Queso again and serve it as a dip with tortilla chips. It was spicy, thick and good! I just don't think I would use the queso for a filling again. However, if you prefer a really cheesy enchilada, this recipe is for you.

Both the organic wheat flour and organic white flour worked fantastic for making roux. Thanks to Bob's Red Mill, I've been exposed to organic flours and to wheat flour, something I never had used before. They are not just for baking, but great for sauces and roux. I hope you will try both.

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