I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve had many crises in the kitchen – ones that make me want to throw up my hands, walk away from the stove and head to the nearest Chipotle. It’s not often that it happens, but it certainly does happen. I’ve found that I’m much less critical of what I’m eating if I’m the one who made it, so it takes a lot for me to completely give up. Not giving up usually leads to a little improv and obscene amounts of cheese, which can mask the greatest of errors. Putting down a couple beers can also make near disasters seem not so disastrous. The following recipe is the result of one such averted crisis.
What was initially going to be carne asada enchiladas turned into carne asada enchilada bake, thanks to the unworkability of my defrosted tortillas. I realize that the jump from enchiladas to enchilada bake is not a huge one, but believe me, it was a frustrating one. I know from experience that, while maybe not ideal, it is possible to freeze tortillas, defrost them, and use them as you would normally. I’m not sure if it was the specific brand of tortillas I was using, the length of time they’d been in my freezer, or just bad luck, but I was only able to separate a few of them without ripping them in half. And, oh my god, you know what? Sometimes I don’t realize why things didn’t do according to plan until I am writing about it on here. Here I am whining about the stupid, unworkable tortillas, and then it dawned on me that I am a complete bonehead. I was about to say that the tortillas ended up brittle when I realized that I was preparing them for the wrong dish. Have you ever made migas before? You know the part where you fry the tortillas in a little hot oil to crisp them up before mixing them with the eggs? That’s what I did with my tortillas, except I wasn’t making migas! When you make enchiladas you are supposed to soften the tortillas by quickly warming them in the oven, not by crisping them up in hot oil. Sometimes I wonder how I got into law school. Or even college.
In hindsight I guess I could have made enchiladas with the tortillas that I had, although few of them remained intact after defrosting. Had I made enchiladas, however, I would not have realized that I could make a lazy man’s version of them, bypassing the wrapping process and creating a lasagna-like dish.
Carne Asada Enchilada Bake
1-1/2 lbs. carne asada or marinated skirt steak
2 cups grated cheese (monterey jack, cheddar, chihuaua…)
1-1/2 cups corn
1/4 cup cilantro
10-12 corn tortillas
1-1/2 cups enchilada sauce
Guacamole/sour cream/salsa for serving
I’m usually not a fan of buying pre-seasoned meats, but for some reason I grabbed this carne asada from Trader Joe’s. Hey, at least it’s autentica.
Grill over high heat until the internal temperature hits 160. Do not overcook it for the sake of your jaw.
You don’t even want to know how many times my smoke alarm went off while cooking this. My arms got a good workout from the amount of towel-waving I was doing.
Slice the meat into thin strips.
Trim the strips down so they’re about an inch long.
Shred the cheese. I used a combination of monterey jack and colby jack.
I’d guess this is about 1/4 cup of cilantro. Chop it well. Thanks to Matt’s mom for the bounty of cilantro!
Combine the carne asada, corn, cilantro, and about 1 cup of the cheese.
How good does that look?
Lightly coat the bottom of an 8″x8″ baking dish with enchilada sauce. Cover with a layer of tortillas, and then add a layer of the meat mixture.
Spoon some enchilada sauce over the meat.
Repeat the layers of tortillas, filling, and enchilada sauce.
Add another layer of tortillas topped off with a liberal dose of enchilada sauce.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.
I guess it wasn’t a failure after all. And you can bet I’ll never again forget the proper way to prepare tortillas for enchiladas.