These recipes were in Marlys’s Cook Book, and are credited to Nannie- who was Marlys’s grandmother. Nannie’s maiden name was Sara Martha Arguello, and she was born in what is now Tijuana, Mexico, so I feel these recipes have some real standing as being authentic Mexican recipes. Nannie married Leo Smith Sr, who was over 93% Mexican; the Smith name is a story in itself.

I know the family has made updates to the recipes; I am certain that enchilada sauce was not found in a can at the grocery store, and even the corn tortillas were probably home made. However, none of that takes away from the authenticity of these recipes.

enchies 008This is a rolled enchilada with filling #1 cut open.

Another aspect of the recipes is inflation; I found it impossible to find a 28 ounce can of enchie sauce, most large cans are now down to about 20 ounces. And the 6 inch corn tortillas are now only 5 1/4 inches in diameter. But we are finding the problem of inflation in a lot of our recipes that come from long ago.

This article contains three different fillings for the enchiladas and shows two different constructions; the normal rolled enchiladas and an enchilada casserole. The casserole is easy and quick to make. I personally like rolled enchiladas, but they are more time consuming, and much more messy to make than the casserole. Rolling tortillas that have been warmed in enchilada sauce is very messy!

enchies 001Enchilada casserole made with filling #2


Sara Martha Arguello (Nannie 1962)

This recipe contains three different filling recipes, each for a dozen corn tortillas. There are also two construction methods for making the enchiladas: rolling the enchies, and a layered casserole. The enchilada sauce is slightly different for the two construction methods.

  • package 6″ corn tortillas
  • can of enchie (or chili) sauce
  • grated cheese (cheddar)

See the construction methods for the number of tortillas and amount of sauce.

These are the recipes for the enchie fillings. Each recipe is for one dozen corn tortillas. If using the Layered Casserole construction method, you might want to cut the recipe in half.

Recipe 1.

  • 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 10 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz chopped olives

Recipe 2.

  • 1/2 lb. monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced ortega chili
  • 10 green onions, chopped

Recipe 3.

  • 1 lb. cooked meat, shredded or chopped

    (roast, hamburger, turkey, chicken)
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced ortega chili
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

For recipe 3, saute ingredients in a small amount of olive oil until onions are cooked. Add salt and pepper.

Now you need to choose your construction method

Rolled-up Enchiladas


  • 4 Tablespoons fat
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 (28 oz.) can (or more) enchie sauce

Make a roux with the fat and flour. Add the canned sauce and cook until thickened.


Work one tortilla at a time. Originally, the tortillas were dipped into hot oil to make them pliable and able to be rolled. Now, we find it is enough to dip them into the hot sauce mixture to warm the tortillas so they are pliable. Then, put a small amount of the filling mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up; place it seam side down in a baking pan. Only make a single layer in the pan. When it is full, top it with the remaining enchie sauce. See cooking directions below.

Layered Enchilada Casserole

The Layered Casserole requires an oven-proof dish which can hold 6 tortillas. Ours is nearly straight sided, 3 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter sloping up to 6 1/2 inches in diameter at the top.

Since only 6 tortillas are used in a casserole, the Enchie Filling recipes should be cut in half unless two casseroles are being made. In that case, double the amount of sauce.


  • 1 (14 oz.) can of enchie sauce. Do not thicken.


Build up the casserole as follows:

  • small amount of sauce
  • a tortilla
  • about 1/5 filling mixture
  • about 1/5 sauce
  • repeat tortilla, filling mixture and sauce until dish is full, then:
  • last plain tortilla on top (my pan holds 5 layers +last tortilla)
  • Cover with remaining sauce.

Cooking for Both Constructions

Cover with foil and bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and bake an additional 5 – 10 minutes.

I am not certain why the enchie sauce for the casserole is not thickened. It felt to me that it would hold the casserole together better if it were thickened like for the rolled enchies. The amount of filling in any given layer of the casserole was very similar to the amount of filling in a rolled enchilada.

enchies 011Cut open rolled enchie with filling 3.

Another trick with the enchie sauce that Marlys taught me is to taste it, and if it seems too acidic, add a spoon or so of sugar. I find that I don’t like it as acidic as it comes from the can.

I used ground turkey for my meat in filling #3. I seasoned the turkey just as I would if using it in another recipe.

I was only able to get 8 rolled enchiladas in my 9 x 13 baking dish; I needed a second baking dish for the last four.

I found that the full recipe for each filling made about 24 ounces of filling; then each enchilada, and each layer of the casserole, used about 2 ounces of the filling; after a couple attempts, I discovered that was just about what I picked up with the cooking spoon I was using, making life quite a bit easier.

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