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Best chili gravy

Looking for the best chili con carne gravy you guys know about. Really I'm driving at who has the best cheese enchiladas with meat sauce.

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  1. I gave you a link in your other thread about this. If you really want meat in it just add some ground beef to it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: danhole

      Indeed. The recipe in that link is, as it says, the soul of Tex-Mex cuisine. Adding beef would be a defilement, but hey, whatever works.

    2. "chili con carne gravy" are four words that just don't go together in Mexican cuisine.... That's that stuff that comes in cans labelled "Manwich" or "Chili Dog Sauce"

      26 Replies
      1. re: KiltedCook

        Kilted I might be playing loose with the word "gravy" which I will blame on hearing my Yankee friends call red sauce "gravy", but I implore you to read anything from Rob Walsh if you think it's not a part of the vernacular.

        1. re: jgradieoakes

          No, that terracotta red stuff that tamales come swimming in (sometimes) is referred to in English as "chile (or chili) gravy", and I have a recipe for it somewhere. Just can't say where right off the bat, but it's in at least one of my cookbooks. It is NOT chili CON CARNE gravy - seems to me there's no meat involved in the making.

          1. re: Will Owen

            I realize the differences, but there are a lot of old school, quite famous Tex-Mex places that serve a "beef" enchilada or just their cheese enchiladas as a cheese enchilada in a thinned out enchilada sauce that has meat. What I'm wondering is is this just the reed chile sauce/ gravy with some ground meat thrown in or is it something else like a thined out chile con carne.

            1. re: jgradieoakes

              Although I cannot recall ever having cheese enchiladas at a Tex-Mex place that had a chili gravy with meat*, I did read something interesting in that Walsh book I keep talking about. It says that in the early days of Tex Mex they would thin chili con carne with water and then add roux as a thickener. Most just made a chili gravy with a roux along with chili powder and comino, then whisk in chicken stock. Oh, also chili con carne was not common for mexicans to eat - it was for americans. Hope this helps.

              *I do remember years ago going to a really cheap mexican chain that had some meat in the chili gravy for cheese enchiladas, but it wasn't all that good. At the time I didn't know better, but now that I do, well I prefer it meatless.

              1. re: danhole

                "It says that in the early days of Tex Mex they would thin chili con carne with water and then add roux as a thickener. Most just made a chili gravy with a roux along with chili powder and comino, then whisk in chicken stock"

                Boom. That's what I'm thinking of. Thanks Dan.

                1. re: danhole

                  My mom often mentions "truck stop enchiladas" as being a cheese ench. with a con carne sauce. Old-school? Yes, based on her experience. Wrong? Really? Says who? It isn't like we have a definitive agreement on what is or is not Tex-Mex - it's an evolving cuisine.

                  And thanks, danhole, you've pushed me over the edge of letting Robb's book sit in my Amazon cart to processing the order.

                2. re: jgradieoakes

                  Having eaten in far more than my share of "old school, quite famous Tex-Mex places" over my 40 years, I can tell you that I cannot think of a single one that serves either cheese or beef enchiladas in a sauce that has meat in it. Tex-Mex-style enchilada sauce, plain and simple, does not have meat in it. Anyplace that does have meat in their enchilada sauce is doing it wrong. Sauces like the one in the above recipe are the standard Tex-Mex enchilada sauce.

                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    And to put it another way is to say that only a really bad Tex Mex place would have a meat "gravy" on the enchiladas. And I do believe I did eat at one once many years ago.

                    1. re: danhole

                      I'm loving this conversation in large part because it speaks to why Tex-Mex is such an awesome food. There are a lot of takes on it and people are super passionate about it...far more I think than people are about what "real" carbonerra or "real" moules frites are.

                      Herrera's in Dallas puts chili con carne on top of their cheese enchiladas. Molina's in Houston has chili con carne on top of cheese enchiladas (as well as chili mac with a fried egg which is as good as it is gringo). Matt's El Rancho in Austin has beef or cheese enchiladas topped with chili con carne. The Original Mexican Cafe in Galveston has a plate that's tamales and enchiladas with con carne (although to be fair they might just be heavy handed saucing the tamale--also to be fair The Original in Galveston isn't so hot but it's supposedly the oldest Tex-Mex place in Texas). Ever had a Roosevelt Special at The Original in Fort Worth? Enchiladas in chili con carne with a fried egg on top.

                      So Herrera's, The Original(s), Molina's, and Matt's El Rancho all serve cheese enchiladas in chili con carne. It might be old fashioned but I don't think it's so odd and it certainly isn't inauthentic.

                      1. re: jgradieoakes

                        When I was living in Alaska (ca. '67), the only "Mexican" food was ONE taco stand - hard-shell, of course. Our favorite way to eat there was to get three tacos (for a dollar!) and a cup of chili, and then strew shredded lettuce and cheese over the tacos and pour the chili over everything. It was kind of a challenge to eat that with a plastic fork, but it was SOOOO good. Especially on a really cold day, of which we had plenty.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Somehow, that really appeals to me....and of all places, too!

                          1. re: jgradieoakes

                            Since I see that you are stuck in NYC, you really need to get that Robb Walsh book. It is not just a cookbook. It has lots of history of the food, where it originated, how it evolved, and since you are a fan of Molina's, there is quite a bit about the founder and some of their recipes. The Original in Ft. Worth is in there as well. I have enjoyed reading it more than looking at the recipes.

                            Went to Galveston not too long ago and it was a toss up between The Original and Gorditas. We went to Gorditas, but i didn't have enchiladas. I had the quail. Pretty good food. I would go again when we are in that town, and I'll check out the cheese enchiladas (my personal favorite tex mex junk food!)

                            1. re: danhole

                              I'm going to grab it on the way home. Thanks for the suggestion. I've never been to Gorditas but will put it on the list for the next time I'm down in that area. Any other places you like?

                              1. re: jgradieoakes

                                For mexican or just Galveston in general? Gorditas is on the Seawall, and it is full of mexican clientele. My husband and I were one of two white clients, so it helps if you know some spanish, but if you don't there are people who do. And cash only.

                                If you want more info on places in Galveston, with my two cents thrown in, look at the Texas board. There have been a lot of threads about Galveston in the past few months.


                                Oh, and I am sure you will enjoy the book!

                            2. re: jgradieoakes

                              Oh man, why can't I live in Texas??? Only consolation is I would probably be a HOUSE!!!

                              1. re: jgradieoakes

                                I gotta say that every one of those dishes actually sounds pretty disgusting to me. Almost like they are covering up bad food with a bunch of stuff. But I'm a "less is better" person so that probably accounts for my reaction. Shiver.

                      2. re: jgradieoakes

                        Hey, hey, us Yankees have a reason why we call a red sauce gravy... because in traditional Italian households, Nonna made it with about 4 different cuts of meat, therefore any sauce you make with meat IS a gravy, and you don't argue with one's Italian Nonna!!!!

                        1. re: Phurstluv

                          But the Mexican (or Tex-Mex?) chili gravy is not made with meat. I would say it's still "gravy", but of a kind not connected with what an Italian Nonna may have done.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Oh, yes, I know. I was just explaining to OP when he referred to the yankees who call their tomato sauce "gravy".

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              So by definition (at least when speaking of Nonnas) a "gravy" is a sauce with meat? So marinara, not a gravy...throw some meat in there, gravy. Right? Does it have to be tomato based to be a gravy?

                              1. re: jgradieoakes

                                Right, gravy is the red sauce with meat, usually ground beef, brisket or chuck, sometimes top round, ground pork or sausage....you get the picture.

                                Marinara is NOT gravy, it's tomato sauce with onions & herbs, sometimes garlic.

                                No doesn't have to be tomato based, but most of the Southern Italian roots that this comes from is tomato based.

                                1. re: Phurstluv

                                  I think the hotted up marinara sauce of the New Orleans Italians is called red gravy.

                                  1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                    How's it hotted up? Just spicy or does it have meat in it, perhaps spicy sausage or some pork butt?

                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                      Cayenne pepper in recipes for it in the two Cajun/Creole cookbooks I own.

                                  2. re: Phurstluv

                                    I wonder why it's called "gravy" though. Thanks though.

                      3. New Mexican style: Get a bunch of dried Hatch or other red chiles, pull out the stems, empty the seeds and stuff as many as possible into a blender, weight down and cover w/ boiling water for half an hour. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, finely dice 1 lb pork and brown. Peal 4 +- garlic cloves, toss into blender w/ cooled chiles and blend. Add to golden pork, salt to taste and simmer for 1/2 hour. Manna and ambrosia rolled into one.
                        Bien Provecho