RE: In search of a great Tex Mex cheese Enchilada...
PJ8- Let me know how this works out. Smells good to me, right over the web. (This is a recipe I copied from SOMEWHERE)
Tex-Mex Chili Gravy
I have been playing with this recipe. As this happened, I started making a few minor adjustments. I now use an All-Clad 2 quart (8 cup) quart stainless steel saucier and a metal whisk. The All-Clad transmits heat more efficiently and I have reduced the cooking temperatures accordingly. Also, I have given in to three personal biases. First, I tend to under salt my dishes, my philosophy being that one can always add salt at the table. And cheese enchiladas, for which this gravy is used, has a lot of salt from the cheese already. So, since Kosher salt carries less saltiness per teaspoon than table salt (larger flakes), by changing the recipe to call for Kosher salt, the over-all saltiness is reduced. Next, the amount of Mexican oregano called for in the original recipe is true to the gravy made by many restaurants. However, I don’t like the Mexican oregano to overpower the dish, so I have reduced the amount to suit my own personal tastes. Last, although the amount of cumin seems like a lot, most cumin sits on the shelf for a while and loses its potency. If, however, you are grinding fresh cumin, or using a top quality brand, go easy on the cumin. You can always add more later.
Cooking times are now based on the All-Clad stainless steel saucier.
Makes 1 quart (4 cups) of chili gravy.
1#8260;2 cup vegetable oil (I use extra light tasting olive oil…these are the olive oils you see in the store that are recommended for frying) but to be more authentic, you can use lard. It will taste better with lard.
1#8260;2 cup all purpose flour
Mix all of the following together and have them ready to toss into the pan.
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (if using freshly ground, you may need to reduce the amount. Start with 1#8260;2 teaspoon and add more later)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1 tablespoon powdered garlic (“Powdered” garlic? This is very common in Tex-Mex cooking and perfectly acceptable)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (Again, if you are grinding your own, be sure to reduce the amount by half to start off with)
1#8260;2 teaspoon of Mexican oregano (Not Mediterranean oregano. Different plant. Well, in a pinch you can substitute)
2 tablespoons Gebhardt’s chili powder (Or home-made, or in a pinch, paprika. You’ll be surprised how many Tex-Mex restaurants just use paprika)
4 cups of water (Or chicken broth, though I prefer water)
Tex-Mex Chili Gravy Instructions (Updated for 2005):
Heat the oil in the sauce pan or a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a whisk or wooden spoon and continuously stir for about 3 minutes. What you are looking for is a very light brown roux. You don’t bring the roux any darker because as the roux darkens, the flour loses its thickening ability. What you’re doing is just taking the raw edge off the flour.
After 3 minutes or so of stirring (don’t be afraid to go 4 minutes if it doesn’t look right), turn of the heat, continuing to stir. Dump the powdered ingredients into the roux and stir with a whisk for a few seconds to blend. The residual heat from the roux is going to release some flavorful oils in the cumin, Mexican oregano, and chili powder. Stir in the 4 cups of water.
Turn the heat back on, this time to the low setting, and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring with the whisk every so often. The gravy will have thickened, and will continue to thicken after it is baked with the enchiladas, so you don’t need to continue thickening it.
Taste the gravy (don’t burn your tongue!) and adjust seasonings as needed.
Allow to cool and reserve for use in making Tex-Mex Cheese Enchiladas.
My favorite cookware: I use a large cast iron skillet that has been well seasoned for any high heat applications, such as steaks, fajitas, etc. I use a 2 quart All-Clad stainless steel saucier (comes with a lid) for making gravy, sauces, and candy, mainly because I have one and also because Teflon coated pots can’t handle the higher temperatures needed for most candy-making. I use Teflon coated pots and sauce pans for just about everything else. They are easy to clean, inert to acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, and allow one to use less oil. I’ve had good luck with my Anolon saucier. Additionally, I have a carbon steel wok with a built in handle. My favorite measuring cups are the Oxo brand that have the measurements on the inside. Oxo also makes a terrific garlic press.