Isn’t it nice when you cook food for someone and they enjoy it so much that they lick every pan, plate and utensil that touched it? That was a certain someone’s (I won’t say who for sake of their dignity) response to my enchiladas last night, made possible in part by my mom who brought a big bag of corn tortillas with her when she came to visit me in London. Thanks, mom!
The enchiladas themselves were nice – a simple filling of sauteed onion, mushroom and spinach – but the sauce really made the meal. I adapted this recipe on RecipeZaar, which used cocoa powder in the seasoning. I also added sauteed onion and sliced carrot, inspired by Julio’s in Austin, Texas.
The enchilada sauce was good enough to eat by itself with a spoon, and I could see using it to spice up all sorts of things: scrambled tofu, black beans, refried beans, steamed vegetables… it would also make a good base for a veggie chili.
Cocoa-Spiked Ranchero Sauce
Carrots are optional but do add a nice texture, especially after they’ve been baked in the oven. Feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices such as jalapeno, cilantro, or parsley. But don’t ever forget the cocoa!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 liter water
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 carrot, sliced (optional)
salt to taste
In a medium saucepan on a low heat, add the olive oil and garlic and cook until soft.
Stirring constantly, gradually sprinkle the flour into the oil to form a thick paste (ever wonder what a roux is? This is it!).
Continue to stir and add the cocoa powder, cumin, oregano and chili powder.
With a wire wisk, continue to stir while slowly adding the water.
Add the tomatoes, salt and sliced carrots and bring everything up to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Taste the sauce and add more chili powder or salt if desired.
Makes enough for about 8 enchiladas, plus little leftover for spooning onto the enchiladas after they come out of the oven.
To use this on enchiladas:
Warm the sauce in a saucepan wide enough to fit a corn tortilla.
In a baking pan, ladle enough sauce to cover the bottom.
Place a corn tortilla into the saucepan and cover with the warm sauce. When the tortilla is warmed through and soft enough to roll into an enchilada, remove and fill with your desired filling. Roll the tortilla into an enchilada place in the baking pan.
Repeat until the pan is full.
Pour more sauce on top of the enchiladas.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the foil, top with grated cheese if desired, and bake until cheese is melted. Tip: turn on the grill for a minute or two to get the cheese nice and brown and crispy!