Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with this Mexican heritage recipe! And a margarita… or seven. :)

Oh, snap! Take me straight to the recipe!

Cinco de Mayo is an interesting holiday. It’s technically a commemoration of the Battle of Puebla, but really it’s more of a general celebration of Mexican culture and heritage for Mexican-Americans. Which means it’s a great time to try a new-to-you but otherwise age old Mexican recipe.

I love love love old family recipes. There’s just something about the generations of care, love, and tweaking that makes a heritage recipe taste so much better. I spent an afternoon with a friend of mine making one of her family’s favorites: stovetop enchilada’s. This recipe has been handed down over the generations and they have kept up the tradition of making it at family gatherings and special occasions since the recipe left Mexico with her ancestors at around the turn of the 20th century. She made and enjoyed this family tradition with her great grandmother, Jualita, as Jualita likely did with her great grandmother, and so on. So here you have it guys, this recipe is something special.

Venison recipes: Jaulita's stovetop enchiladas

This sauce is low and slow, to let it mellow.

The sauce is kind of like a deconstructed molé. It’s a little bit of an acquired taste, in the sense that its extremely strong flavor is not one that most people are used to. Once you are seduced my its warm, spicy goodness, however, you won’t be able to get enough. It also doesn’t involve nearly as many ingredients as a molé. The sauce should ultimately be the consistency of pancake batter, so keep adding the water reserved from boiling the chiles a little bit at a time until it gets there. You can tone it down a touch by putting 1 tablespoon up to a stick of butter in it, or a heavy pinch or two of sugar in it, but do not over sweeten it. Once you shove the enchilada full of meat and/or cheese it balances out quite nicely.


Nom nom!

During the rolling process, your fingers will get burned. Consider this your warning. Maybe find someone with some good calloused hands to help you with the rolling part (like a guitar player or something). Do not use tongs. You can try, but the tortillas will rip. In fact, you will rip at least one tortilla during the process, probably more, so make sure you have plenty on hand. If you rip one it’s gonna be okay – just throw it away and start again. When serving a crowd, you can do one of two things. You can kind of take people’s “orders” with what they want them filled with and yell at them when theirs are ready, or, you can do a bunch of them (maybe some meat, some cheese only) and put them on a platter to warm in the oven so everyone can eat together. It all kind of depends on how your family rolls.

Jualita’s Stovetop Enchiladas


  • 2lb ground venison
  • 1 large bag (shredded cheddar)
  • 2 onions (chopped and separated in half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 packet tortillas (Make sure to have extra for mess ups)
  • oil for frying
  • chopped tomatoes (for topping)
  • chopped lettuce (for topping)
  • 1 bag shredded colby jack (or the)
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro (for topping)
  • 2 chopped avocados

For the sauce

  • 1 Large Bag of Ancho chili pods (About 10 oz)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cumin
  • salt to taste


For the sauce
Step 1
De stem and seed the dried chiles, leaving a few seeds to your desired level of spiciness. Boil at a rolling boil for about 15 minutes, until the skins will pinch off easily. Drain into a bowl, reserving the boiling liquid. Puree the chiles in a blender. Put in a sauce pan and sauté on a very low simmer for at least two hours. Add the reserved water back into the sauce 1/4 cup at a time as it simmers down, adding 1 tsp of cumin and 2 pinches of salt every time you add water. The final consistency of the sauce should be similar to pancake batter. If it's not that liquidy at first, that's okay. Also add a heavy pinch of sugar or a few tablespoons of butter towards the end if desired. You can chop all the vegetables for the filling and toppings while the sauce is simmering.
Step 2
Heat sauté pan on medium high heat and add the spices, onion and venison. Brown and continue to cook until the onions are translucent.
Step 3
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet or other somewhat deep and wide sauté pan. Have a spare plate (for rolling) on hand, as well as a platter to lay the enchiladas on. Also have the tortillas, cheese, onions or other desired fillings (as well as the meat, which should still be on the stove) nearby.
Step 4
When the oil is hot, coat a tortilla in the sauce and carefully lay it in the hot oil. Fry about 2-3 minutes per side, until the tortilla is cooked all the way through and very pliable. Remove to a plate, fill with meat and cheese and/or onions, if desired. Working quickly, roll everything up (being careful, it will be hot on the fingers) and remove to the platter. Repeat until you are out of ingredients, or until your fingers are too burned and bleeding to continue. Garnish with more cheese, cilantro, fresh onion, fresh tomato, chopped lettuce and/or chopped avocado.
Non game substitution: Any kind of “taco meat” will really do here. You can even do strips of steak or shredded chicken.
Vegetarian substitution: Cheese-only is my friend’s fave. For a vegan approach, try it with sautéed veggies. I bet you could even stuff one with slices of avocado, as long as you plan on eating it right away.


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