New Mexican Flat Enchiladas

New Mexican Flat Enchiladas were a Henson family tradition when I met Matt and he was always so happy to make them. I haven’t had them in a really long time. We never had them very often and then at some point Matt deemed them too unhealthy. In retrospect, the timing seems to have coincided at some time around the years of the death of his parents. I do remember moving to Texas and Matt buying the large strings of dried red chilies for his mother. It was a special tradition for him. There wasn’t really a written recipe, and it was me who did the work of hydrating the chilies, blending them and straining them. I love these sorts of traditions so it wasn’t a chore for me, just time consuming and therefore done just for special occasions. Lately, I’m having a craving for them…

ground beef
corn tortillas
cheddar cheese
canola oil
chili beans or kidney beans
New Mexican red chilies, soaked in boiled water for 30 minutes, blended with just enough soaking water to make ketchup like and strained to remove skin and seeds

Matt always fried the tortillas in oil. He cooked the ground beef and onions, added the sauce and beans and then layered meat mixture, tortilla, meat mixture cheese. “How many layers do you want?” he would ask. I could never figure out if he counted layers by meat or by tortilla because I considered the meat at the bottom a layer and you always finish with meat and cheese. It must have been that I would ask for 3 layers meaning meat and would have to define it as meaning 2 tortillas. Matt always had at least 3 tortillas but wouldn’t necessarily eat the whole thing. Generally, a pound of beef made our two enchiladas and that was it.

The Thunderbird

After Matt’s Porsche 924 was car-becued and before the 300ZX, Matt had a maroon 1987 Ford Thunderbird. I have mixed feelings remembering that car. I never liked it because it felt huge to drive, with a really long nose, the clutch was like a rock and I felt like even at the furthest I could move the seat forward, I could barely reach the pedals. But it was also the car that we drove away from our wedding in and that got us from Pittsburgh to Austin. Then right after we moved into our new house, Matt got a ticket going down a hill that has speed limit of 35 but takes you much faster just coasting.

In college, Matt did not have a lot of money, but he insisted on driving a sports car. After the Porsche died, he scraped together some money and found a car that he was excited about. Unfortunately, he got ripped off and and ended up with the thunderbird for about $1000. I’m not sure that he even liked it but it was as good as he could do. I remember for our wedding, Erik, Matt’s best man, decorated the car, including hiding a whole package of smelly leaf air fresheners throughout the car. It took us a really long time to find them all and Matt was really annoyed about it.

After we got to Austin and Matt started working, we bought a 1993 Nissan 300ZX convertible and got rid of the Thunderbird. Matt was so happy with the Z. Little did I know that the Thunderbird was the first of the five sports cars we owned within the first five years we were married.