Carnitas Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Whenever I go to the store, I always pick up a container of cooked pork to have on hand.  It is a real lifesaver when you’ve had a hard kid day, a long day at the office, or don’t feel like having leftovers. I will confess that these enchiladas aren’t traditional. I roll them when I have the patience to do it. However, with Avery crawling around, I don’t unless her dad is home to take over baby watch. This is more of a casserole application. A great thing about it is you can make a full or half pan to have lunches or frozen portions on hand.  If you make a half pan, the remaining pork can be used for bbq pulled pork sandwiches another day.

If you prefer homemade over store bought pork, I recommend smoking a pork butt in good weather to freeze for later use.  It always tastes better when you can add your own seasonings and flavors. This can be served with salad, rice, and beans for a complete meal. It is very easy to go vegan or vegetarian with this recipe. I used vegetable stock base for the enchilada sauce. You could use sauteed firm packed tofu cubed up or hearty portobello mushrooms for a beef like flavor.


Vegetable Stock

As I make dinners, I put vegetable scraps in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer. Things like onion ends and skins, potato skins, carrot ends, mushroom stems, etc. This really can use all your vegetable scraps, even peppers. I put them in a crock pot and add water to cover. Cook on low for 10 hours. Once the time is up, strain the stock to catch all the seeds and things.

From here you can use the stock immediately or freeze it. You can use ice cube trays, Tupperware, another Ziploc bag, anything really. I personally put the stock in a Tupperware container and freeze it. Once solid, I put it in a food-saver bag, remove the air, and store it that way. I also do this with my enchilada sauce when I make a large batch.

Red Enchilada Sauce


All of this is done to taste, so this is what I did. If you like certain flavors or more heat, you can adjust accordingly.

1/4 cup salted butter (1/2 stick) *if making vegetarian or vegan, can substitute or leave out completely*

4 cups of vegetable stock

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon oregano

2 tablespoons groud cumin

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon beef bullion *if you are making this vegetarian or vegan, you can leave this out*


Melt the butter with olive oil in the pan. If you prefer to leave the butter out, you can add another tablespoon of olive oil instead. The butter does add a depth of flavor and makes the sauce glossy.


Add the flour to the butter and oil and whisk until it reaches this consistency. This helps cook the flour taste out and thickens the sauce as it cooks.


Slowly add the vegetable stock to the butter/flour mixture. Whisk and incorporate the stock as you go. This will keep the mixture from giving you a lumpy finishing product. Just add enough stock until it looks like the above picture. There will still be a few lumps, but that is ok.


Add the spices and seasonings directly to the mixture. This will make sure the flavor builds as it simmers. After whisking together, it will look like this.


Once you’ve gotten to this point, add the rest of your vegetable stock. Place on medium-low heat and let it simmer for at least 30 min. Longer is better. You may need to reduce heat if it starts to have a rolling simmer.


As you let it simmer, the color will deepen. You may need more stock as it simmers and reduces. Be sure to add a touch more seasonings as needed when you add more stock.


Finished product will be reduced by about a third, thicken, and be a nice deep red color. From here, you can let it cool and store as your needs dictate. If you find your sauce is too thin, you can make a cornstarch slurry. 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and just enough water to dissolve it. Whisk into the sauce and heat for another 5 min. This will thicken it up further.

If you are going to make enchiladas, keep on reading. 🙂


Carnitas Enchiladas

1 package of pulled pork (or smoked pork butt)

Corn Tortillas

Your homemade enchilada sauce

Cheese of your choice *can subsitute or leave out for Vegan and Vegetarian versions*

Prehead the oven to 350 degrees.  In a casserole dish, about 9×13 or a little smaller, spoon some of the enchilada sauce. Break up some corn tortillas to make a bottom layer.


You can layer as you choose. I layered it: tortillas, pork, enchilada sauce, tortillas pork, more enchilada sauce, etc. If you like, you can add cheese in between the layers, but I just put it on the final layer.


If you aren’t serving it right away and making lunch or future dinner portions, refrigerate the whole thing first. This will make it easier to slice into without the layers falling apart.

Keep in mind that if you decide to make it a bit spicy, the flavor will continue to develop as it sits in the fridge or freezer.



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