Monday, December 26, 2016

Potato Enchiladas

One of my family's favorite "special occasion" foods is my grandma's potato enchiladas. Truth be told, they are about as "poor man's food" as you can get, but they are delicious. A few years ago, after Grandma Mary died, I got a wild hair up my butt to make these for our Christmas Eve celebration. They were a big hit, and Jay and I have been making them every Christmas Eve since.

I tried to get to the bottom of where the recipe came from, as it seems that only my family (and friends we have introduced them to) have ever eaten them. The consensus is that it came from either Grandma Mary or her mother, Great-grandma Claudia, in trying to feed all of the mouths in the family. They are made of ingredients that were cheap and readily available. The most expensive ingredient in the dish was/is the cheese, which back then came from the "commodities people" (a.k.a. the food pantry).

However, despite the recipe being invented out of necessity, it is a family favorite and I'm glad Grandma Mary taught me how to make them. Jay and I have cleaned up the recipe a bit, to make it a touch healthier, while maintaining the same flavors as the original.

  • 3 dozen flour tortillas (Grandma, of course, made hers from scratch, but I'm lazy)
  • 5# potatoes (we use russet, but it doesn't matter which you use)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 c. peas (we use frozen, Grandma used canned)
  • shredded cheese
  • garlic olive oil
  • vegetable oil
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper 

Dice potatoes, coat with garlic olive oil, toss with salt and pepper, then spread on baking sheets and roast in a 400*F oven until cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan. Add roasted potatoes, peas, and chili powder paste (see below). Cook for just a couple of minutes, until peas are thawed.

Make a paste of chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. I have no idea of the measurements (remember, this was a recipe handed down from my Mexican grandmother, who measured things by guess and by golly), but it's about a 4:1:1 ratio of chili powder to garlic and onion powders. Add enough water to make a paste.

Dunk a tortilla into the paste, coating both sides, and quick-fry in a hot skillet with vegetable oil (Grandma used lard), drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Fill tortillas with potato mixture, shredded cheese, and raw diced onion (if desired). Roll and place in baking dishes. Thin chili powder paste with water to use as a sauce to pour over the rolled enchiladas. Cover with shredded cheese and bake in 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes.

Look at the mess on the stove from quick-frying and cry, then begin to clean. You have just enough time to clean the mess while the enchiladas are baking.