Enchilada Pie

This Friday is May 5th (5/5) and you may have heard it called “Cinco de Mayo” in Spanish. Since we are in 2023 and 2 + 3 = 5, maybe Cinco de Mayo will be an extra special, magical day this year! That could be a great excuse to have a fiesta and serve Mexican food.

My beau, James, gave me his mother’s recipe for enchilada pie. I call this kind of a recipe an “un-recipe” because it’s more of a guide than a recipe with exact measurements. Play a little and have fun; experiment and be creative. You can adapt this un-recipe to suit your own tastes and use what you have on hand.

Here is what you need:

An oven-proof skillet or pie pan
Vegetable oil
Flour tortillas
Enchilada sauce
Chicken, beef, pork or turkey
Onion, finely diced
Shredded cheese
Optional: beans, rice, corn, peppers, chilies, olives and whatever suits your fancy

Preheat the oven to 375⁰. I use a 12” cast iron skillet. Cook the meat you desire. My friend Jerry gave me his old-fashioned meat grinder to experiment with. I bought some beef stir fry meat and ground it up. When I cooked it, it had the nicest texture, more chewy than hamburger. I added about half a packet of taco seasoning mix to the meat. Cumin, paprika, and a bit of oregano would work well too. I didn’t cook the onion first. It had a sweet flavor and a slightly crunchy texture when the dish was done cooking.

Oil the bottom of the skillet or pan. Place a tortilla on the bottom and then layer enchilada sauce, meat, onion, cheese, and whatever else you desire. Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese on top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.

If you want to turn this simple recipe into a festive dish, dress it up in party clothes! It’s all in the presentation. Add some avocado slices and a dollop of chunky salsa. Put some sour cream in a squeeze bottle and make a few swirls. Chop up some cilantro and sprinkle that on. Add a lime wedge or two. The final touch could be a dusting of smoked paprika which adds a subtle, complex flavor. Suddenly this simple enchilada dish is all dressed up and ready to party with family and friends. Don’t feel like entertaining? You can have a party for one, you know. Invite yourself to dinner and have your own Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Ah . . . this is the essence of the good life. Good food, good drink, and good times – a festive fiesta.