My family calls them enchiladas

They’re not really enchiladas. They’re savory cornmeal pancakes topped with tomato chili sauce and sharp cheddar, so maybe we should call them Mexican pizza. But because the Midwestern church ladies might never have tried real Mexican food when they passed along this recipe to my grandma decades ago, enchiladas is the name that stuck.

I never agreed with the sauce-to-corn-cake ratio in the original recipe (too little sauce!) so the quantities below are altered to suit my preferences. Sorry for messing with tradition, mom. But this way I have lots of delicious, saucy leftovers for the freezer. My boyfriend isn’t a fan for some reason, so I get to keep them all for myself!

Midwestern Enchiladas Recipe (makes about 8 servings)

Start with the sauce:

  • 2-3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 yellow onion (or half a big one), diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable bouillon (soften 2 cube in 2 cups hot water)
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 28-oz can tomato puree

Saute onion, pepper, and garlic in butter until tender but not yet soft. Add flour, salt, and chili powder and stir until smooth. Stir in tomatoes and bouillon. Partially cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and velvety (20-30 minutes).

While the sauce cooks, make the corn cakes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • a big pinch of grated cheddar cheese
  • milk

Stir together in a big bowl, using enough milk to reach the consistency of pancake batter. Cook on a hot greased pan or griddle.

Spoon sauce over cakes and top with goodies — my family traditionally chooses shredded sharp cheddar, lettuce, and chopped green olives (sounds weird, but it’s good). You can also try chopped cilantro, sour cream, sliced avocado, grilled corn, or whatever you like.


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