Ground Beef Enchiladas
Recipe courtesy of Vegetables Illustrated from Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 4 to 6
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Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
For the sauce: Heat anchos in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine anchos and broth in bowl, cover, and microwave until steaming, about 2 minutes. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer anchos and broth to blender and add chipotle.
Heat oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl and set aside. Return skillet with remaining onion mixture to medium heat and add tomato paste and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer onion mixture in skillet to blender with ancho mixture and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Season sauce with salt to taste and wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
For the enchiladas: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add beef, cumin, coriander, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, breaking meat into ¼-inch pieces with wooden spoon. Add reserved onion mixture (do not wash bowl) and continue to cook until beef is no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Return beef mixture to bowl; add 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and ¼ cup sauce and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste.
Spread ½ cup sauce over bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Brush both sides of tortillas with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange tortillas on rimmed baking sheet, overlapping as needed, and bake until warm and pliable, about 5 minutes. Spread ¼ cup filling down center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly around filling and place seam side down in dish, arranging enchiladas in 2 rows across width of dish.
Spread remaining sauce over top of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Monterey Jack. Bake until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling at edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve with sour cream and lime wedges.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS The combination of dried ancho chiles and chipotles in adobo in the enchilada sauce brought an authentic, deeper, smokier flavor to this classic Tex-Mex dish than what could be achieved using commercial chili powder. The spices added to the beef, along with the rich sauce and melted cheese, elevated the filling to a higher level. Brushing the tortillas lightly with oil and briefly baking them helped to waterproof them so that they didn't get soggy when baked. Fresh herbs and a spritz of lime brightened the dish and provided balance for the rich, cheesy filling. Don't use ground beef that's fattier than 90 percent lean or the dish will be greasy.