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Italian + Mexican = ????

At the beginning of the month, I tried a new recipe for my birthday. It’s called Italian Drip Beef, it comes by way of The Pioneer Woman, and it is amazing.

Umm, how could something that looks like this not be amazing? (photo from thepinoeerwoman.com)

Check out the recipe here. It’s super easy, I promise.

It uses half a jar of pepperoncini peppers. They are, I think, the secret to the amazing flavor of the meat, but they’re not something that I or my husband would typically just eat out of the jar. So, what’s a girl to do with an extra half-jar of pepperoncini?

Make more drip beef, of course!.

When I made it on my birthday, my parents were around and that meat didn’t last nearly long enough. This time, though, I knew the 3-lb roast would be more than plenty for just my husband and me, so I put some thought into what to do with the leftovers. Not that we couldn’t just eat the meat with a fork at any time of day…because we totally could. But while delicious, that just isn’t very exciting.

What would be a great use for shredded beef? Enchiladas crossed my mind…I haven’t made them in a while and seriously, how can you not love enchiladas? But then I doubted myself. Italian seasoned meat, in Mexican-style enchiladas? Weird. I was not so sure that I wanted salsa and cilantro and onion and sour cream and cheddar cheese and green chiles and red sauce anywhere near my Italian Drip Beef.

Then, it hit me. Tortillas + beef + SPAGHETTI SAUCE + parmesan/mozzarella = ITALIAN ENCHILADAS. I am a genius.

The other vital component of this recipe is spaghetti sauce. Please, reader, whoever you are (unless you’re my mother which means you already take this advice because you’re the one who gave me this recipe), don’t go buy sauce from the store. It’s not like it’s all bad…but it’s probably not as good as the homemade kind. And the homemade kind is really, truly, very easy.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 onion, cut in wedges
1/2 bell pepper, cut in 3 or so chunks (the recipe from my mom said green, but I prefer red/yellow/orange. This time, I made it with mini sweet peppers, because I had a bunch, and they are the bomb)
Several stalks of celery, leaves included
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (or, if you are freshly out of that, as I was…1 tsp each of basil, thyme, and oregano)

Combine all ingredients and simmer about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
OR, if you are a working woman like me, throw it all in the crock pot on low and simmer all day! I had my husband turn it off when he woke up around 3:30, so it wasn’t going quite all day.
Remove large chunks (celery, onion, pepper) before serving.

If you want to make meat sauce, add your cooked burger/sausage/whatever to the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes or so to blend the flavors.

So, now that you know about all the elements, time to put together some Italian Enchiladas!

Leftover shredded beef (you could probably use some other Italian-y seasoned meat if you had it around)
1 package of tortillas
1 recipe spaghetti sauce
1 bag of shredded Parmesan cheese (I imagine mozzarella would work equally well, or whatever kind of cheese you prefer in this circumstance)
Pepperoni (if you’re crazy like us)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. (Full disclosure: I didn’t do this, because I never think of it until my food is already in the pan, mocking me as it plots to stick there forever.)

Shredded beef, all ready to enchilada-ize

2. Using tongs (or your fingers, ’cause they’re gonna get pretty saucy anyways), dip a tortilla in the spaghetti sauce to coat. Spoon meat onto tortilla and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (At this point, I asked my husband if there was anything else I should add to this crazy concoction. He suggested pepperoni, so I put some pepperoni slices in two of the enchiladas. If this sounds like you, feel free to add it!). Roll up tortilla and place, seam-side down, in pan.

 

Saucy tortilla, meat, pepperoni, cheese. Yummy.

Saucy tortilla, meat, pepperoni, cheese. Yummy.

Random shot of me cooking, thanks to my husband. I always wear an apron, since I like some place to wipe my hands.

Random shot of me cooking, thanks to my husband. I always wear an apron, since I like some place to wipe my hands.

3. Repeat until you are out of meat. Highly scientific, I know. I miraculously managed to portion my meat so it filled exactly the number of tortillas that fit the pan, which, I think, was 8.

4. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas in pan. (I didn’t quite use up the sauce–when I felt like there was enough, I set the rest aside to freeze for a later day). Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. If you’re feeling crazy, add some slices of pepperoni.

It kind of looks like a pizza.

It kind of looks like a pizza.

italian enchiladas 5

5. Bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and everything is a little bit bubbly.

Doesn't this look amazing?

Doesn’t this look amazing?

6. Enjoy!

This is seriously making me hungry, just looking at it. Possibly because I need to go cook dinner right now.

This is seriously making me hungry, just looking at it. Possibly because I need to go cook dinner right now.

My comment on the results:  very tasty. I would definitely make this again, if I had the same leftovers. Or maybe even if I didn’t.

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