I’m telling you, I used to love Tex-Mex enchiladas. Matter of fact, they were my go-to quick check on how good the whole menu was likely to be. Somewhere along the line, the test no longer indicated much, except that the sauce came from a can and the ground beef sold for a dollar a pound. Also, the red sauce version got a little bit old. I traded red for green, but soon that came out of a can also.
Want some Mexican food worthy of the wonderful cuisine of Mexico? Use fresh ingredients and make it in your own kitchen. There are some exceptions. I went into a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan (NY not Kansas!) and saw a sign over the kitchen door: Our kitchen has never seen a can! Now, that’s the kind of Mexican cuisine that ranks alongside the best in the world.
Ok, there are some limitations at home. I confess I do not make my own tortillas, either flour or corn. But, I have experimented and found the best packaged brands that suit my own taste buds.
Secondly, I do use jars of pickled jalapeños, although I also use fresh jalapeños in the summer, right out of my own garden.
So, with true confessions nakedly displayed, let’s get on with making some terrific Grilled Pork Tenderloin Enchiladas that will please your loved ones and your family.
1-2 Tablespoons Oil (I use safflower oil)
1 Medium onion diced
3 mild green jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you must, use a small can of chopped, mild green chilies, drained)
1 Heaping Tablespoon chili powder (for the meat)
1 Pork tenderloin (about 1 pound or a bit more)
1 Package cream cheese
1 Heaping cup peppered Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
6-8 Flour tortillas (depending on size)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 Cup half and half cream
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
Prepare the Pork Tenderloin:
Sprinkle salt, freshly ground pepper, and chili powder generously on the pork. Grill the meat, or cut it in half, add a little oil and brown it on all sides in a pan. Note: The meat will not be cooked through, but not to worry, you’ll fully cook it later. Cut the meat into fairly thin slices and either chop it, or put it in a food processor and give it a few spins. The result should look like a course grind, not finely ground like hamburger. Set the meat aside.
Prepare the Sauce:
Put the chopped cilantro and the half and half in a bowl (or food processor) and blend well. Put the cream sauce aside.
In the same pan you used for the meat, add the diced onion and a bit more oil. Sauté over medium heat until caramelized. Add the diced jalapeños, or the canned chilies, and cook until soft.
Combo: Add the meat to the onion/diced chili mixture and stir to cook the meat. As soon as the pork loses its pinkness, it’s done. There’s not much fat on a pork tenderloin, so if you overcook it, the meat will be dry. Now add the cream cheese to the meat/onion/diced chili mixture and mix until fully blended. Your enchilada filling is ready!
Put it all together:
Put a couple of heaping tablespoons of filling on a tortilla, wrap it and put the enchilada seam-side down in a baking dish. Make the remaining enchiladas in the same manner and add them to the baking dish.
Pour the cream/cilantro sauce evenly over the enchiladas.
Sprinkle the shredded Monterey Jack cheese over the enchiladas and cover the baking pan with aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 minutes in the 350ºF (180ºC) pre-heated oven.
I served mine with refried beans. The story has a happy ending. My wife extended our marriage contract for another year, my son smiled at me between bites, and the next day he offered some to his friends. High praise that warms an aging father’s heart.