Stovetop Enchiladas

This recipe has an unusual history.  It is based on a recipe in a cookbook for stovetop cooking.  Somehow I had got the cookbook thirty years ago when I was a college student living in an apartment, but I don't think I still have it.  Anyway my college roommates and I decided to try the enchilada recipe, but when we went to the local grocery store we couldn't find all the ingredients (including the canned enchilada sauce).  We therefore "got creative" and the result was actually really good.  I've been making them this way ever since.  The recipe may seem a little strange but it does work.  Also, I don't necessarily have the exact amount for some of the ingredients since it's an invented recipe.

The enchiladas are made in a frypan on the stove top.  Because of this you need a large frypan with a cover.  Mine is a 12-inch.

1 lb ground beef (maybe a little more)

1 large onion, chopped

4 or 5 hot peppers from a jar, seeded and minced (these are little yellow peppers that come in jars like small pickle jars, they're maybe 1 or 2 inches big.  I think they're just labeled chili peppers. They're easy to find.)

1 12 oz can tomato paste

1 Medium-size jar of Original Pace Picante sauce (I believe it's 16oz.  I use heat level of "Medium")

1 can cream of mushroom soup

About two cups milk

2 or 3 tablespoons chili powder

1-1/2 lbs shredded cheddar cheese (I mix "Sharp" and "Medium".  By the way, I never buy pre-shredded cheese.  That stuff isn't pure cheese, they coat it with some kind of starch or something to prevent it from sticking, and I don't think it melts very well.  Instead, I use the "shredder" attachment for my "Salad Shooter", which shreds cheese extremely quickly and easily and goes into the dishwasher)

Maybe a pound of kalamata olives, chopped (my local grocery has an "olive bar" where I can buy these)

About a dozen corn tortillas (don't use flour tortillas)

Vegetable oil

Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in the large frypan and sautee about half a cup to one cup of chopped onions (you'll need the remaining onion for assembling the enchiladas).  Add the ground beef and brown well.  Drain excess fat.  Add the minced chili peppers, cream of mushroom soup, and jar of picante sauce.  At this point the sauce will look rather gray.  Add the tomato paste and stir in well.  The sauce will be fairly thick.  Add the milk, and then thin the sauce the rest of the way with water until desired consistency (about like gravy, maybe a little thinner).  Stir in chili powder.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, watching carefully to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Meantime, prepare the corn tortillas.  Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, carefully slide in one tortilla, submerge it under the oil and immediately remove it.  Repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking on a plate.  This makes the tortillas soft and pliable, don't omit this step. 

Assemble the enchiladas:  place a tortilla on a plate.  Dump on a spoonful of the sauce (about 1 soup-spoon's worth).  Put a mound of shredded cheese in the center (I'd guess maybe a quarter-cup, enough to fill the enchilada when rolled).  On top of the cheese sprinkle some of the black olives and chopped onion.  Roll up and place in frypan, pushing into the sauce.  Repeat until frypan is full.  Run a spoon around the edge of the pan and under the enchiladas to pull out a little of the sauce and spread on top of the enchiladas.  Top with the remaining cheese, enough to make an even layer of shredded cheese across the pan.  Evenly sprinkle the leftover black olives and onion on top of the cheese.  Cover the pan and return to the stovetop.  Heat over low heat for about 35 minutes until the cheese on top is melted.  Don't use too high heat or the underside could burn.

These are actually pretty good, however once all the cheese melts it is basically impossible to locate individual enchiladas.  I just spoon out the stuff and don't worry about it.  Sometimes I reheat leftovers and put on top of a baked potato.