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Christmas Style Enchiladas from New Mexico

The Hatch Chile Store has kindly supported this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own (and highly persuasive). This post also contains Amazon affiliate links in which I earn a small commission for any sales. Thanks for your support!

Christmas Style enchiladas in a stainless steel casserole dish covered in garnishes. Packages of Hatch chile surround.
Christmas Style Enchiladas

The best of New Mexican Cuisine

The flavors you’ll taste in this recipe for Christmas style enchiladas is the best of the best of New Mexican Cuisine. As a native New Mexican, I personally love to introduce people to the true flavors of the southwest, and I enjoy teaching them how to re-create New Mexican Cuisine in their homes in my cookbooks and recipes like the one down below!

The state of New Mexico still remains a largely undiscovered gem hiding in the Southwestern United States, between Arizona and Texas, despite its famously delicious Mexican/Native American cuisine.

Looking down on a stack of tamales still in their corn husks, surrounded by dried red chile pods.
Red chile Tamales wrapped in corn husks

Hopefully, more people than ever are discovering “The Land of Enchantment” thanks to a large marketing push from the state’s tourism department over the last few years (I’m talking about you #NewMexicoTrue).

I talk to people all the time who say they’ve driven through New Mexico, but have never spent any time exploring it (other than pulling off the interstate to top off the gas tank). This truly saddens me. New Mexico, despite tourism being the number one money maker for the state, is still largely unknown to the majority of the country.

Baskets of wool sit on the sand outside of an adobe home. A chile ristra hangs above.
A chile pepper ristra hangs over baskets of raw wool in an adobe village.

Where do Christmas Enchiladas come from?

Enchiladas are originally a Mexican dish, and New Mexico was originally, well, part of Mexico. So people have been cooking with tortillas and chile peppers (red=ripe, green=unripe) here for hundreds of years!

Christmas enchiladas come from the rich Mexican heritage of New Mexico and the coincidence of the local chile pepper colors being red and green. These chile sauces have been incorporated together into several local Holiday recipes, including enchiladas.

So, it is common to see enchiladas and other dishes with both red and green chile sauce around the holidays in New Mexico. However, you can eat your enchiladas Christmas style any time of year! How? Read on and I’ll explain.

Looking down into a dish of Christmas style New Mexican Enchiladas.

What do New Mexicans mean by Xmas style?

New Mexican cuisine has one famous question, “Red or Green?”, which refers to the type of chile sauce you’d like with your food.Christmas” style (or Xmas style) enchiladas doesn’t (usually) refer to the holiday, but instead refers to having both red AND green chile on your entree any time of year.

So if you’d like to try both flavors of chile sauce on your entree, just answer “Christmas” when responding to the red or green question above, and the waitress/waiter will know exactly what you mean :0)

What sauce is normally on enchiladas?

The most common type of sauce used to make enchiladas is a sauce blended from rehydrated red chile peppers, fresh onion, fresh garlic, and herbs. This is traditionally how enchiladas were made for hundreds of years.

Someone pours red chile sauce from a blender into a serving dish on a table.

Today, folks stateside have taken quite a creative license with enchiladas, smothering them in all-sorts of sauces that I’m sure are delicious, but not authentic. And hey, that’s totally fine. If it tastes good, I’ll eat it!

Many (many) years ago, enchiladas were most often a vegetarian dish, filled with fresh cheese and diced onion. They are still often served this way in Mexico, placed into a tortilla soaked in red chile sauce and gently fried in oil to make it pliable so it will roll up. (And add flavor too!)

What tortillas for enchiladas?

Use Corn tortillas for an authentic Mexican taste. Corn was cultivated and held sacred by ancient native tribes in central America, and they ground it to make their tortillas. Enchiladas were always made with corn tortillas, until the Spanish came and introduced wheat flour.

Today, a lot of people choose to use flour tortillas instead of corn in enchilada recipes because flour tortillas are naturally more pliable (bend without breaking). The inexperienced home cook may try to roll a raw corn tortilla like a flour tortilla, and find it will tear apart when they do so.

Corn tortillas must be cooked in hot oil for a few seconds to add moisture (and flavor) in order for them to become pliable and roll up easily. Personally, I find using corn tortillas just adds a terrific flavor to any enchilada recipe and it is worth the little extra work to use them.

What are Hatch Chile Peppers?

Hatch Chile peppers are world famous for their delicious flavors, produced by the unique climate and soil composition that exists only in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. These factors combine to grow exceptional-tasting chile peppers with smoky, sweet, and hot flavor notes. More people discover Hatch Chiles each year, and their popularity continues to grow.

Growing up in New Mexico where chile peppers are an integral part of the culture, I know that Hatch chiles have earned a reputation for being the best of the best. I personally only use authentic Hatch in all my cooking because it simply tastes amazing. You should be able to find canned Hatch chile in any supermarket these days, or you can order it directly like I do. Frozen chile is much, much better tasting than canned!

The Hatch Chile Store is the premiere website for ordering your Hatch chile– they are incredibly good at shipping fresh authentic chile right to your door, whatever variety and hotness lever you prefer. It’s where I get all my Hatch Chile, and I must say the flavor really does stand out above any other chile pepper variety.

Wooden baskets at a farmer's market are filled with fresh New Mexico chiles; most of them are green, but a few are turning red.

Head on over now to The Hatch Chile Store to stock up on the most delicious Hatch chile you can buy anywhere- they’ve always got great deals on your favorite products!

Did you know I have a full-color cookbook with lots more easy and delicious New Mexican recipes? You can learn more about it here!

How to make New Mexico Style Christmas Enchiladas

I wanted to create an enchilada recipe that would be positively delectable, while showing off the beautiful colors of the red and green Hatch chile sauces that are so central to New Mexican Cuisine.

Other Christmas enchilada recipes will pour red chile down one side, and green down the other. I wanted to incorporate the taste of both chile sauces in every bite. So I cooked my tortillas in red chile, and baked them in green, then smothered them in more cheese. Detailed instructions to follow:

Make your red and green sauces first.

I had a jar of Hatch red chile puree, so I decided I’d just use it and save myself the time of re-hydrating dried chile pods. I just added in a few dried seasonings to the pureed sauce and simmered it for a bit to get the ‘enchilada’ sauce taste. Dried oregano, garlic, onion, cumin and ground coriander, along with a pinch of salt gently simmered into the chile sauce puree was perfect.

Looking down into a stainless steel saute pan filled with red chile sauce and seasonings.

I have a freezer stocked with roasted Hatch green chile, so I used it to make my green chile sauce from scratch. I used my famous recipe right here. Once it was cooked, I transfered it to a blender, and blended in more fresh chile and an extra pinch of salt. The taste was outstanding!

Looking down on a wooden table with a cast iron skillet full of green chile sauce. Next to it is freshly roasted green chile peppers and a package of frozen Hatch green chile.

Now it’s time to prepare the filling.

I love ground beef enchiladas, but I’m not a fan of raw onion being mixed into my filling. So I saute my onion to a nice golden brown, then stir in my ground beef to cook with the onion. I prepped my cheese by simply crumbling it by hand into a separete bowl.

Looking down into a stainless steel saute pan cooking ground beef and diced onions.

Preparing the corn tortillas- don’t skip this step

This step is important because it adds flavor, and also keeps them from ripping apart when you roll them up!

Whisk in approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup water into the red chile sauce to thin it. Dip each tortilla into the sauce, coating both sides, and set aside to soak. Heat up a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until hot, and quickly fry each red chile-soaked tortilla for about 5 seconds on each side. Lay fried tortillas onto a plate or baking sheet.

Someone uses tongs to dip a red chile soaked corn tortilla into hot frying oil on a stovetop.

Assembly

Pour approximately 3/4ths of the green chile sauce (about 2-3 cups) into your casserole dish and tip it to completely coat the bottom. Be sure to save some to pour over the tops of the enchiladas as well.

Green chile sauce is poured from a blender into the bottom of a stainles steel casserole dish.

Fill each tortilla with about 3 spoonfuls of ground beef and 2 spoonfuls of crumbled queso fresco, as shown below. I used king sized corn tortillas, which are approximately 6 inches wide.

Roll up each tortilla and place into the baking dish in a nice row.

Filling and rolling enchiladas.

Once you are out of tortillas or your baking dish is full, (hopefully both!) You’ll pour the rest of the green chile sauce down the center, and cover with shredded cheddar cheese.

A pan of completely assembled Christmas enchiladas, covered in shredded cheddar cheese, is ready for the oven.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes uncovered, to melt the cheese and heat the enchiladas through.

Once they have cooled for a couple of minutes, garnish your enchiladas however you like. I used slice olives, crispy tortilla strips, chopped tomato, chopped avocado, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced jalapeno, and Mexican crema. I also had some shredded lettuce to add once the enchiladas were on individual serving plates.

A closeup of the garnishes placed on a freshly baked pan of Christmas enchiladas. Diced tomato, diced jalapeno, diced avocado, crispy tortilla strips, crema and fresh cilantro leaves.

These Christmas style enchiladas were absolutely, stunningly, delicious and oh so pretty. I am in love with my new creation. I have to say these really were the best enchiladas I have EVER tasted. Super serious. I hope you love them as much as my family and I did.

You will not be dissapointed!

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Christmas Style Enchiladas from New Mexico


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x

Description

Prepare to be amazed at the savory pairing of ground beef and queso fresco stuffed enchiladas, rolled into Hatch red chile sauce corn tortillas, then smothered in Hatch green chile sauce and melty cheddar cheese. Garnished with Mexican Crema, tomato, avocado, olives, cilantro, and crispy tortilla strips.


Ingredients

Units Scale

These instructions are exactly how I prepared the enchiladas featured in the photos above (which were outstandingly delicious!). If you wish, you can customize this recipe by using your own sauce recipes and swap out the filling for traditional potato/onion, chicken, or whatever you’d like!

Equipment needed:

  • 9 X 13 metal or ceramic casserole dish
  • Blender

Red and Green Chile Sauces

  • 1 jar (or two cups) prepared Hatch red chile sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 23 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1.5 pounds of chopped roasted green chile, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Enchiladas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, chopped fine
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package of queso fresco cheese
  • salt
  • 1416 king sized corn tortillas, (about 6 inches in diameter)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema

Garnishes (optional)

  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1 avocado, sliced and diced
  • 1 small can of sliced black olives
  • loosely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup crispy tortilla strips (I usually find these by the salad toppings)

 


Instructions

For the Sauces:

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, pour in the entire jar of red chile sauce. Whisk in the cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground coriander and a pinch of salt. Whisk often until the sauce just comes to a boil, then remove from heat and whisk in the water to thin the sauce. Rinse out the saucepan to use for the green chile sauce.
  2. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, then stir in one pound of the green chile. Cook for about 1 minute, then sprinkle the green chile onion mixture with the flour. Continue to stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the flour has turned a golden brown.
  4. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (Yes I know I put a pinch of salt on the onion earlier, but this sauce needs a bit more salt ;0)
  5. Empty the saucepan contents into a blender. Add the remaining green chile and chicken broth to the blender and puree the sauce. Set aside, clean your saucepan again, and proceed with the filling.

For the Enchiladas:

  1. Set a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil. When hot, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown. Add in the ground beef, break it apart and stir it into the onion. Sprinkle the beef with a pinch of salt. Cook until beef is completely browned and no pink spots remain. Remove from heat.
  2. In a mixing bowl, crumble the queso fresco cheese with your hands and set aside.
  3. Using tongs or your hands, dip both sides of the corn tortillas into the red chile sauce and set on a plate to soak. Place a small cast iron skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1/3 cup vegetable oil. When hot, pick up one soaked tortilla with tongs and fry in hot oil for just 2-3 seconds on each side. Remove to a rimmed baking sheet and repeat with the remainder of the red chile soaked tortillas. Do not skip this step- it adds flavor and allows the tortillas to become pliable so they won’t rip ;0) Set your oven to 350 degrees F and move an oven rack to the middle position.
  4. Assembly: Pour approximately 3/4 of the green chile sauce into the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish to coat the bottom. Fill tortillas with approximately 2-3 tablespoons of beef mixture and 2-3 tablespoons crumbled cheese. Roll and place in the baking dish over the green chile sauce. Repeat filling and placing the tortillas until the pan is filled.
  5. Pour the remaining green chile sauce in a line over the center of the enchiladas. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until enchiladas are heated through and cheese is melty but not browned on top.
  6. Place one or two enchiladas on a serving plate and top with garnishes to serve.
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: New Mexican

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 or 2 enchiladas

Keywords: Enchiladas, Hatch chile, comfort food, New Mexico, beef

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