I didn't grow up in Texas, but I did eat my fair share of Tex-Mex as a kid. Saucy burritos, sizzling fajitas, and giant bowls of cheese dip all hold fond places in my heart, even as I have grown to love a two-bite chorizo taco much. One of my favorite dishes to order at these restaurants was the enchilada platter, drenched in red sauce and smothered in melty Mexican blend cheese. Much like blogger Lisa Fain, I grew up eating these enchiladas filled crumbly ground beef—usually a fairly flavorless afterthought after all that cheese and sauce.
Far better are enchiladas made with braised and shredded beef, as Fain discovered at a younger age than I. Her recipe in her new cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table, features slowly cooked and ultra-tender chuck roast. Its rich flavor is a perfect match to Fain's complex three-chile enchilada sauce and blanket of cheddar cheese.
Why I picked this recipe: I've never met an enchilada I haven't liked.
What worked: Braised chuck is a big step up from crumbly ground beef when it comes to enchilada filling and the spicy, complex sauce was a fine match to the beefier flavor. Cheddar cheese? Pure comfort.
What didn't: The recipe made more sauce and two more enchiladas than written, but I don't consider that an actual problem. More enchiladas for me.
Suggested tweaks: Enchiladas are a great make-ahead dish. You can braise the beef and make the sauce on one day, and then assemble and bake the next day. You could likely even assemble the enchiladas ahead of time and bake them off straight from the fridge. Add 10-15 more minutes to the baking time and start the dish covered with foil if the ingredients are cold.