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Jalisco-style cheese burritos: Help, please!

We live in AZ and most of the Mexican food here is Sonoran. I've learned to make some good dishes in this style. My husband and his daughter are from Tennessee, where the style of Mexican food originates in Jalisco. My step-daughter loves their cheese burritos and I'd like to surprise her on Sunday with a dish of them. My husband says the restaurants appear to use delicatessen white American cheese that has been shredded and rolled inside a steamed, moist flour tortilla. A thin red sauce is poured on top and the burritos are baked (or put under a salamander). Anyone have more precise instructions or a recipe for Jalisco red sauce?


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  1. Aren't those ... enchiladas, that you're talking about?

    1. Whoa, American cheese inside a flour tortilla doesn't sound like any traditional recipe that I've seen. OTOH the 'Merican' cheese could be a decent Jack or other melting cheese. I will be interested to see how this topic unfolds.

      Robb Walsh, a well known writer on Tex-Mex cuisine, believes that 'Jalisco style' is code for Not Tex-Mex, Not Americanized Mexican. Other CHers in this topic http://www.chowhound.com/topics/403110 on Jalisco style have observed the same thing.

      The use of food words in Mexico is confusing enough, not including the American abuse of same *cough*TacoBell*cough*.

      BTW those burritos, er, enchiladas, uh, could be a variety of quesadilla.

      4 Replies
      1. re: DiveFan

        The menus of Jalisco Mexican restaurants in the Southeast practically all - and I'm talking simpler, family-friendly places, not upscale or trendy - call what I have described a "burrito". I suspect that nomenclature could be a loose thing...As for the American cheese, maybe that's what the restaurants could only get at first and their customers became used to it and liked it. No, it doesn't sound very Mexican to me either. No doubt accommodations were made to appeal to local tastes, as well, and I can tell you that taste and presentation among the various Jalisco restaurants is amazingly similar. Anyway, I was hoping someone might have an idea as to how their sauce is made. Thanks to anyone who can help.


        1. re: rexsreine

          As others alluded, namely Dive Fan, I really don't think there is any such thing as a Jalisco style Burrito. While Flour tortillas in the Highlands Region & adjacent to the Zacatecas border do make the rare appearance.... I think the only place in Jalisco I have ever seen a Burrito is in Puerto Vallarta and that is almost exclusively in the tourist district.

          Perhaps it can be argued that Shrimp Burritos are now common enough in PV that they are a regional speciality.... but my hunch is that the Jalisco Style Cheese Burrito is really a Southeast U.S. thing! Whoo hoo now you have somethign to fight back against those arrogant Southwesterners!

          Now... I know Ginny that you didn't come to be accosted by us... and you really just want a recipe for the thin red sauce... and that we can help you with if you will answer a few questions:

          > Shade of Red.... slightly pale, brick red, deep red?
          > Consistency... perfectly smooth or with carmelized onion bits? Perhaps some seeds, tomatoe skins, or dark charcoal flecks?
          > Flavour.... sharp, spicy & almost berry like or rounded & meat brothy? Or pungenet with oregano-ish herbs?

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            I lived in the Guadalajara-Lake Chapala area for 10 years. A few years ago a chain opened up called "El Burro Norteno" serving burros with all kinds of fillings, mostly different types of guisos. And, of course, these are made with flour tortillas, very large ones since the burros are very large (and delicious too). When I've been there, most of their customers have been Mexicans. You can buy the flour tortillas in all the grocery stores there now too.

            1. re: RevImmigrant

              Thanks for that info... didn't realize they had made that far south... do you know how many outlets they had in the area?

      2. With no description of the sauce other than "thin and red," from the other ingredients, and it being from somewhere in Tennesee, I'm going to guess that the sauce you are looking for might actually originate from a can you could find in a grocery store. Seriously, I'm not trying to be holier than thou in any way at all. You might find like an ortega or old el paso "enchilada sauce" in a can that is EXACTLY what those places in Tenn might have used. It sounds par for the course for a SE ish place that would serve up a flour tortilla stuffed w/ American cheese and then baked in a sauce and called a burrito. Again, not trying to be snobby at all, but you might find exactly the same brand if you buy a few cans of enchilada sauce at your local mkt.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gordeaux

          I'd guess that La Victoria, El Pato or the above brands might be the closest match since their canned enchilada sauces have a lot of tomato in them; brands made in Mexico such as Herdez, La Costena or San Marcos generally do not. The latter might be too spicy for your guests.
          I spent a lot of time in the SE thirty years ago but don't remember anything like that steamed flour tortilla dish. Taco Bell was already there in force!

        2. Try this: melt about 2 T. butter or lard in a skillet, sprikle on 2 T flour. Brown slightly. Turn DOWN heat and add chile powder (Try New Mexico red or Pasilla, or a combo of both) be careful not scorch! Slowly pour in chicken broth, bring up to a boil, add little more broth, until you get your desired consistency. I think this make about 1 cup. You might need a few cups to make a batch of your burritos. Add salt to taste.

          1. Thanks to all you Chowhounds who responded and I take no offense at any of the comments. People like what they like, some of it is upscale and a whole lot of it isn't. Oh well. As far as the restaurant using a canned, commercial sauce, the answer is "no". My husband was a good enough customer and enough of a cook himself that the restaurant's manager actually let him into the kitchen. They made their own sauce - or at least this particular and favorite restaurant did. Hubby says there were a lot of #10 cans of diced tomatoes around. To answer Eat Nopal's very good questions: The sauce was a deep tomato red, almost perfectly smooth and quite thin, no flecks or bits of anything, and more pungent with oregano-ish flavor. Hubby agrees that the dish is probably something the Jalisco-born cooks came up with to please the local population. Think I'll start experimenting tomorrow with a roux-based sauce using blended tomatoes and water and oregano.
            Thanks again.


            1 Reply
            1. re: rexsreine

              You know, I am still not sure that a Jalisco-style sauce would be tomato based; I think it might be more likely to be chile-based, as paso_girl says above. But who knows what a Tennessee-based Jalisco style sauce is based on, right? It sounds like you have a good handle on how you want it to taste. Good luck with your efforts.

              I am also not sure that a Mexican restaurant, even in Tennessee, would seek out American deli cheese to use in a regional dish, when there are so many good Mexican cheeses available. You might substitute queso asadero or queso anejo in your dish; they are mild and can be easily mistaken for American cheese.

            2. Actually... one of the sauces that is most linked to Jaliscan cuisine is Salsa / Caldillo Ranchero. While some parts of the State do start with a roux... I think that is more of an exception... I would suggest the following:

              > Boil Tomatoes (since there are no flecks)
              > Brown some Onion add Mexican Oregano, Thyme & Marjoram
              > Dry Roast Garlic (Let the unpeeled garlic char over a griddle, grill or fire... then peel after it has cooled down)

              Puree the Tomatoes, Onions, Herbs & Garlic with a little bit of chicken broth until you a medium thick sauce.... strain it.

              Heat a Skillet with some Lard (or your preferred fat) and sear the sauce until the color changes it reduces about 25% (should be about 5 minutes).

              Now add some Chicken Broth or Water to get it as thin as the finished sauce consistency.

              Add Ancho Chile Powder until the sauce is as deep red as you remember it, compensate with some Arbol Chile Powder if you need some more heat.

              Salt to taste. Black pepper is also appropriate. Simmer 20 minutes.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Themis,since the Jalisco restaurants have been in Eastern TN for some time, I'm still going to guess they couldn't get a Mexican cheese to begin with and so they and their patrons simply became used to the easily available American. It seems most ethnic cuisines undergo transformations once transported to this country, hence cookbooks with such titles as "The American-Italian Kitchen" or "Cooking Chinese in the American Kitchen". For me, if the food is tasty and relatively nutritious, I won't stand on authenticity for each dish. Look what happened to the English language after a few decades here...LOL!

                Eat Nopal, I like your sauce ideas. The combo of ingredients certainly sounds as though it might yield just what I'm looking for. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and creativity.

                Guess I'll just have to let you all know what my stepdaughter's reaction will be! Till then, thanks again for all the comments.

                1. re: rexsreine

                  I think it is possible that the enchilada sauce you are referring to is made with dried chiles...I live in the state of Nayarit (just over the border from Jalisco) and this is the way enchilada sauce is made in our region. Not sure if you can find the dried chiles where you live, but here is the recipe:

                  Enchilada sauce roja

                  6 chiles guajillos
                  3 chiles ancho or pasilla
                  3 or 4 roma tomatoes
                  ¼ onion
                  2 cloves garlic
                  1 and ½ cups chicken broth (or tomato bullion if you can find it)
                  2 TBS oil (usually corn oil)
                  salt to taste

                  Toast the chiles by putting them in a hot fry pan for just a few minutes, pressing down and then turning them over to release their fragrance. This takes 1-2 minutes. Then remove the stems, seeds and membranes and soak in hot water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the tomatoes and onion and cut into pieces.

                  Drain the chiles and transfer to a blender (this is probably the most important cooking tool in the Mexican kitchen!). Add the tomatoes, onion,, garlic and chicken stock and puree.

                  Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the pureed sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat and add salt to taste.

                  As far as cheese goes, I cannot imagine finding processed cheese in an enchilada in Mexico, or cheddar cheese, for that matter. They generally use a soft white cheese they call asadero, from Oaxaca. It's almost like string cheese, and muenster might be a good substitute. Also, I have never seen a flour tortilla used for enchiladas, just for quesadillas and chalupas.

                  One more thing - most Mexican cooks do not use ovens, so enchiladas are never baked like a casserole. Just rolled up and served right away.

                  Hope this helps!