I had to get creative after making a HUGE batch of enchilada sauce and only making 20 or so enchiladas. I might have mentioned I’ve never really learned to cook small. It’s a task I will spend the rest of my life trying to accomplish…cooking for two. I would probably cut my food budge in half if I could learn to cook for two, not six.
But wasting food isn’t an option and I was still craving that full bodied enchilada sauce I made. I also had leftover tortillas but didn’t want to make another round of enchiladas, especially since I am trying to cook something new every day.
Enchiladas can be time consuming to prepare but I have made many a casserole with the same ingredients over the years. By cutting the tortilla up, I get to skip the frying them. I just put all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix, pour into a casserole dish, bake, and serve. Simple enough.
For tonight’s dinner I wanted to be a bit more elegant-or at least look the part. I opted not to make the standard casserole but instead made a lasagna-like layered dish. I love ground beef but always buy lean, at least 93% lean. Sometimes that means I have to add a bit of olive oil when trying to brown it. I realize I am switching one fat for another. As a pantry, or in this case, freezer staple, I always have frozen corn. My personal favorite is sweet white corn. But really any corn will do, canned, yellow, whatever you have.
1 lb ground beef-lean
½ onion; diced
2 garlic cloves; minced/grated
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder; heaping +/-
¼ tsp pepper
⅛ tsp salt; to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup water
10-15 corn tortillas; quartered
1 can black beans; drained and rinsed
1½ cups corn kernels
10 oz shredded cheddar cheese
10 oz enchilada sauce +/- (homemade or prepared)
Black olives (optional)
In a hot skillet, brown the ground beef on high. If the beef is not rendering much fat, add a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking and burning. At about the half way point, add the onions, garlic, cumin, chili pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Once cooked, drain any fat, either rendered from beef or excess olive oil. Reduce heat to medium and add tomato paste and water to seasoned beef. Incorporate well. Taste and adjust your seasonings as needed. Set aside.
To make the process go smoother and quicker, have all your ingredients ready to go, bowls of cheese, sauce, beans, corn, etc.
In your preferred baking dish, add a tablespoon or two of sauce to the bottom, the amount will depend on the size of your baking dish. Layer cut tortillas along the bottom. Add a layer of meat. Drizzle some sauce over the meat. Layer with tortillas. Layer with beans and corn, then drizzle a small amount of sauce. Layer with tortillas. Layer with meat, beans, corn, a lot of cheese, and sauce. Layer of tortillas. Layer of sauce and cheese. Layer of tortillas. Final layer of sauce so it runs through and down. Top with cheese and olives, if using them, and bake for about 40-45 minutes at 350º.
After baking, let rest for several minutes before slicing into it and serving.