This post in sponsored by Iowa Corn, all opinions are my own. #IACornFed #ad
These delicious ground beef enchiladas are loaded with flavorful corn-fed beef, melty cheese, and hearty beans, then topped with a fantastic homemade enchilada sauce and more cheese. Top them with your favorite fixings for a comfort food classic that will please even the most difficult eater.
What Do You Need for Beef Enchiladas?
Beef enchiladas are fairly, simple. You need beef, onions, beans, tortillas, enchilada sauce, and a few seasonings. But what you choose to use for these can make a difference in how they turn out. So let’s take a look at the ingredients.
One of the things that makes these enchiladas really amazing is the corn fed ground beef in the filling. It is rich, hearty, delicious, flavorful beef. And costs less than grass-fed beef too. So that is nice.
I recently went to Iowa to learn all the things about corn. (You can see more about this trip in this post for Cornbread Dressing.) But one of the things I learned about corn grown in the US is a lot of it is used for animal feed. Which of course led to questions about corn-fed beef and corn-fed pork!
Because this is a beef enchilada recipe, I wanted to share some of what I have learned about corn-fed beef.
Now, I had heard that grass-fed beef was better than corn-fed, so I asked the farmers and cattlemen with Iowa Beef to explain the differences to me so I could understand the benefits of incorporating corn fed meat into meals.
Here is what I learned:
Corn Fed Iowa Beef
- What is Corn-Fed Beef? The beef industry refers to it as grain-finished beef. Most cows spend the majority of their lives eating on pastures, but since most places in the US that raise cattle don’t have the kind of weather that allows for pasture eating for the whole life of the cow, they move them to a feed lot so they can finish growing. So after spending a big part of their life eating alfalfa or other grass and forage, they are moved to a feedlot for grain-finishing. The grain and silage they are fed often contains corn!
- Why Corn-Fed? Cattle who are grain fed will gain weight more quickly than those that are only grass-fed. This means they get ready for market sooner (which means cheaper for consumers). And it also leads to more flavor. A lot of the weight gained from finishing on grain is fat. Fat means more marbling in steaks, and makes the finer cuts of beef more tender and juicy. Basically fat = flavor.
- Cost Comparison: Grass fed beef is more expensive than grain finished. Why? What makes grain finishing meats less expensive, especially if it means it tastes better? Because it has to be imported. Much of the grass-finished beef is imported from Australia and New Zealand, where grass grows all year round in abundance. So it costs more to buy grass fed beef because it costs more to get it here.
In other words, while grass-finished beef is great, grain finishing a win-win. It is a win for farmer whose animal grows larger more quickly, and are fed during the winter months while grass isn’t abundant. And it is a win for the consumer who wants the most tender, juicy steak possible, and don’t want to pay a ton for it.
- Cilantro: Most authentic beef enchiladas just have a garnish of cilantro, which is delicious and lightens up the dish.
- Jalapeños or Peppers: If you like a little heat or want spicy beef enchiladas, topping with sliced jalapeños is a great way to achieve that. Consider mixing some into the filling as well.
- Tomatoes, Avocados, Lettuce: The sky is the limit with toppings, but if you want to try and stick with healthy beef enchiladas, these are a great way to add health without too many extra calories or negatives.
- Queso: beef enchiladas with queso is so fun, but very cheesy. I love this easy cheese sauce on top of enchiladas.
- Chilis: Green chilies are a great addition to enchiladas, I love easy beef enchiladas with chilis on top or mixed into the filling for a little more flavor. Hatch Chilies are amongst my favorite. But roasted poblanos are also great.
- Sour cream: Simple and quick beef enchiladas topped with sour cream are kind of a staple.
Homemade beef enchiladas are great as is, and even better when customized to your liking. So have fun with the toppings. Our favorite: Cilantro and avocado.
Easy Beef Enchilada Tips
The best beef enchilada recipe is achieved by using the best ingredients (aka corn fed beef, great enchilada sauce, the right tortillas), and by using the best methods. Here are a few tips to help you get beef enchiladas your family will want to eat again and again.
Tips for Making Ground Beef Enchiladas:
- Do NOT put Enchilada Sauce IN the tortilla. The inside should be for the filling. Which has meat, beans, onions, and flavor. The outside is for the sauce. If you put it inside too you will have too much sauce and it will overpower the rest.
- Simplify: Don’t let a long ingredient list scare you. Most of the ingredients are spices, and things you have on hand. And if you are in a hurry look for shortcuts. Make your enchilada sauce ahead and keep it on hand, or use a canned sauce. Buy pre-shredded cheese, etc. Do what you need to do to simplify the process.
- Treat Your Tortillas: Use your favorite, corn or flour (corn is traditional), and either heat them up in a microwave or dip them in hot oil to heat them before filling them.
- Avoid Soggy Enchiladas: You can do this by quickly dipping your tortillas in hot oil, which creates a barrier for the sauce.
- Make Ahead: Prepare these enchiladas and freeze before baking for a quick fix meal for a busy night.
Beef Enchiladas FAQ:
How To Make Beef Enchiladas Ahead
Beef enchiladas are one of the easiest and best make-ahead meals, as they do not lose much quality when frozen and baked later. To achieve the best results, follow this method:
- 2 Tablespoon light olive oil
- 2 Tablespoon flour
- 4 Tablespoon chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 8 tortillas
- 14 oz refried beans
- 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese grated
- Cilantro roughly chopped for garnish as well as your favorite toppings
- In a large sauce pan, oven medium heat, heat olive oil
- Once oil is hot, stir in flour, whisking it together to create a roux
- Slowly whisk in chicken or vegetable broth, whisking to create a lump free sauce.
- Stir in all spices, mixing well.
- Continue to cook, and whisk until thickens to preferred sauce consistency.
- Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add ground beef and begin to cook, breaking it up as you go.
- Add the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Continue cooking until beef is completely browned and cooked through.
- Open the can of refried beans, and stir it into beef mixture along with ½ a cup of prepared enchilada sauce. Stir until it is completely incorporated.
- Smear a bit of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
- Now assemble each enchilada by placing meat and bean mixture filling into a tortilla, dividing it equally between the 8 tortillas. And roll them up.
- Place each enchilada seam side down in the baking pan.
- Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top, then top with cheese.
- Cover with foil, and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F
- Uncover and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted and everything is heated through and bubbly.
- Serve hot with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, or whatever garnishes you like best!
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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