Julia's Red Cheese Enchiladas

My friend Julia gets raving reviews from everyone who eats her homemade red enchilidas.   She showed me how to make it (the sauce is easy but tedious, but also is the key ingredient, and no canned sauce even comes close!), and I took pictures of the process (see below).  Julia gave me permission to share this recipe with you. :)  This recipe feeds 4-10 people, depending.  These are the best enchiladas!!!



Mission brand white corn tortillas (30 count)

2-3 lbs muenster cheese, shredded (shredded cheddar-jack cheese is a substitute, but not as tasty)

1-2 large bag(s) dried red chile peppers/pods

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled

garlic salt

1/4 cup or so of Canola oil (I use grapeseed oil, which seems to make them less greasy)

1 cup chopped onion

2-3 cups shredded lettuce

Salt to taste

Optional: Fried eggs


Equipment needed:

2 qt. pot


med-sized fine mesh strainer

2 large bowls/pots

tablespoon or large spoon

large frying pan (heavy duty, or cast iron preferable)


cheese shredder

sharp knife



Remove (by hand) and discard stems and seeds from chile pods.  Put garlic cloves and chiles in water (completely cover) and boil until soft.  Takes about 30-40 minutes or so. 

Set aside and cool.  Shred cheese, cut lettuce fine, and chop onion and put on separate plates in fridge until needed.

1st Step of Sauce: In the blender, blend several chiles at a time with sprinkle of garlic salt (to taste) and a little bit of the boil-water (now should be a very dark color) until very smooth.  Sauce should be the consistency of tomato soup - not too thick, not too thin.  Pour into large bowl.  Repeat until all chiles are made into sauce.  .

2nd Step of Sauce: Put large bowl in sink with strainer on top.  Pour small amounts of sauce into the strainer and press it through, smashing it back and forth with large spoon.  A thick paste should be left behind in the strainer - discard this paste.  The smoother sauce should be caught in the bottom of the bowl.  Continue this process until all of the sauce has been pressed through, then REPEAT entire process, catching sauce in a second large bowl so that the sauce is very smooth and no more lumps remain.

Prepare frying pan with oil, turn heat on med-low.  Notice the tortillas have a bubbly texture on one side (side A), and a smoother lined texture (side B) on the other.   Dip a tortilla into the sauce so both sides are covered.  Place side A down in the pan and fry it for about 5 seconds, then with a spatula turn it over so that side B is down.  Tip: It is important that the lined flat side is down as it will not fall apart or stick as badly as when the bubbly side is down. 

A teaspoon full of extra sauce may be added if desired, as can a pinch of onion.   Quickly add a pinch of cheese with all 5 fingers (should be the same amount as the size of an egg) on MIDDLE of frying tortilla.  Do not spread out (cheese will run out the ends otherwise).  Take spatula and fold 1/2 of the torilla up and over the cheese, and then fold over one more time.  Push enchilada to the edge of the pan so it can continue cooking. 

Repeat process with another tortilla, then another.  A teaspoon of sauce may also be added on top of enchiladas while cooking.  Pan usually does best with no more than 3-4 tortillas/enchiladas at a time, and the whole process happens very quickly so make sure it doesn't burn.

Place enchiladas on plate, top with fried egg (which can be cooked in the same grease) for "enchiladas montadas" unless no egg is preferred.  Top with more onion (if desired) and lettuce.

Serve with refried beans and spanish rice on the side.



Be careful to wash hands several times after touching the chile pods, and don't touch your eyes or nasal membranes as it will burn!
Tip: If you don't have time but can find red sauce in the clear bag (available in refrigerated section of Big 8 grocery stores) it will save time.