Succulent shellfish and a rich, creamy sauce make these Shrimp Enchiladas truly something special – a Tex-Mex staple transformed into good old-fashioned comfort food.
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I think it’s safe to say there’s a little “pleasure seeker” in all of us, whether it’s jumping out of airplanes or seeking tamer activities without the adrenaline rush . . . you know, like spending a whole day in your pajamas.
My kitchen is one of those places of pleasure for me (big surprise, I know), and there’s nothing quite like ooey, gooey, cheesy plates of awesomeness – things like lasagna or other casseroles – to send me over the moon.
I think you’ll find these delicate Shrimp Enchiladas, covered in a velvety cream sauce, are your gateway food to pleasure town.
No, I wouldn’t call these healthy Shrimp Enchiladas and we’re not going to mention the Shrimp Enchiladas calories. “Comfort food” isn’t generally synonymous with “health food,” LOL.
This recipe was inspired by my White Chicken Enchiladas, which boasts a similar sauce with a simple shredded chicken stuffing. I wanted something more elegant, decadent even, and plump fresh shrimp were just the ticket.
WHAT DO I NEED FOR SHRIMP ENCHILADAS?
To make Shrimp Enchiladas, you need tortillas and a shrimp filling (either simple grilled or baked shrimp or something more elaborate). You also need some type of sauce (usually red or green), and a sprinkling of cheese.
It just takes a few ingredients to create something really magical, and my recipe starts with tortillas . . . flour tortillas.
ARE AUTHENTIC ENCHILADAS MADE WITH CORN OR FLOUR TORTILLAS?
Authentic enchiladas are made from corn tortillas. Using flour tortillas as an alternative makes for a simpler recipe that doesn’t require softening the tortillas before stuffing, plus it creates a more neutral background flavor that doesn’t compete with the enchilada filling like corn tortillas can.
(I also find that flour tortillas hold up a little better during the baking process which makes them ideal for any re-heatable leftovers!)
My creamy Shrimp Enchiladas are stuffed with a savory filling that’ll make you glad there’s no corn-y competition. It starts with onion, garlic, and fresh jalapenos, the perfect aromatics for our shrimpy star.
Jalapenos can vary quite a bit in their heat, by the way, so you may want to try a little nibble and adjust the amount based on just how much heat you can handle.
Next, I toss some sliced mushrooms into the saute pan. This is a unique addition (unless you’re making a veggie enchilada filling) that provides some meaty texture, but it also helps the shrimp go a little further.
Although most of us can find fresh or frozen shrimp in the market nowadays, they can also be a little pricey depending on what’s available.
The good thing is, because we’ll be chopping these into smaller pieces, you have some flexibility to choose what might be freshest and on sale. I’d just avoid the little popcorn-sized shrimp because they tend to get lost in the enchiladas and have less flavor than the larger varieties.
It’s also generally better to buy shrimp with the shell on, then peel and devein them at home since the shell helps protect the texture of the shrimp when they’re frozen. Here are some tips for navigating all the head-on, flash-frozen, wild vs. farm-fresh options at your market.
The shrimp mixture is seasoned with ground cumin and chili powder which provide a little smokiness and subtle heat, plus some chopped cilantro.
Don’t shy away from the love-it-or-hate-it herb here. It adds some lovely color and a fresh quality, with the complex citrusy flavor we all (well, most of us, anyway) love adding to our Mexican or Thai or Vietnamese dishes. If you’re really in the “hate it” category, maybe try reducing the amount rather than omitting it entirely or have it on the side as a garnish like I do for my Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.
Honestly, the filling is so good you should try it on your next taco night, but we’re going to use it to build something even more amazing with some help from my white enchilada sauce.
When most people think of enchiladas, they visualize the classic red, dried-chili based sauce (like you typically find on cheese or Beef Enchiladas), and when you look up recipes for shrimp enchiladas red sauce is usually on top (the shrimp enchiladas recipe Food Network versions are either topped with red sauce or mole).
The sauce I use in this dish is similar to shrimp enchiladas suizas or “Swiss” enchiladas, which gets their name because of the copious amounts of dairy in the sauce. It’s also what makes these such a decadent treat.
We’ll start by making a basic roux of butter and flour and cook it just until the raw flour flavor is gone – no need to darken it like we would for a brown gravy. Next, we’ll add some milk and thicken the mixture to a gravy-like consistency.
The real “creamy” quality of this sauce comes from sour cream, whisked in after the mixture has cooled a bit. The result is a rich cream sauce with a touch of tanginess that balances the sweetness of the shrimp.
We’ll also add some cheese to maximize the velvety feel of the sauce and make sure there are plenty of those enticing cheese strings stretching from the baking dish to your plate. Monterey jack works perfectly here, both for color and mildness of flavor, as well as its smooth melting consistency.
I add chopped green chiles for color and heat, and I like to use the fire-roasted Ortega version. Feel free to substitute another brand, though, if you prefer.
You’ll add a little of the sauce to the filling, then put together the enchiladas.
HOW DO I MAKE SHRIMP ENCHILADAS?
To make shrimp enchiladas, you start by softening corn tortillas in oil and rolling them into a cigar shape with some filling inside. Next, you place the stuffed tortillas into a baking dish, top them with sauce and cheese, and bake until bubbly.
We get to skip that first step since we’re using flour tortillas which shave a decent amount of prep time off a traditional enchiladas recipe. Make sure you place the stuffed tortillas into the casserole dish seam-side down to keep them from unrolling and use a pan that lets you pack them in tightly.
Since all the ingredients are already cooked in this dish, the enchiladas just need a little time to heat up in the oven. You WILL want to let them cool a bit before serving or else you’ll lose a good bit of the sauce between the baking dish and plate (the sauce will thicken a bit as it cools). Once you’ve tried these, though, you’ll find it hard not to dive right in straight out of the oven!
RECIPE NOTES FOR SHRIMP ENCHILADAS:
Heat it up – If you want to turn these into spicy Shrimp Enchiladas, you can make Shrimp Enchiladas with jalapeno cream sauce. Just add a couple of chopped, fresh jalapenos to the sauce and/or use the “spicy” version of the canned chiles. You can also substitute pepper Jack for the Monterey Jack cheese.
I do prefer to use green chiles to heat things up, though, because cayenne or chipotles can give the white, creamy sauce a pink hue.
Mix it up – Don’t feel like shrimp are the only option here. You can do a seafood combo and make crab and shrimp enchiladas (adding a little jumbo lump crab to the shrimp filling) or scallop and shrimp enchiladas, substituting small bay-size scallops for some of the shrimp. I don’t like to use fish in enchiladas, only because overcooked fish is kinda inedible, and controlling the cooking process when it’s inside a stuffing is difficult.
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Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas Recipe
- 6 Tablespoon Butter
- 6 Tablespoon Flour
- 3 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 1/2 Cups Sour Cream
- 1 (7 Ounce) Can Diced Ortega Chilis
- 1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese Shredded
- 2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- 1 Cup Yellow Onion, Chopped
- 1 Jalapeno Finely Chopped and Seeded
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 8 Ounces Sliced Mushrooms
- 1 Pound Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined Cut into 3/4 Inch Pieces
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped
- 8 6 Inch Flour Tortillas
- 1 1/2 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese Shredded
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Make the Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined. Continue to cook for 1 minute to remove the flour taste.
- Remove the skillet from heat and whisk in broth. Place back on heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and is bubbly. Cool sauce for 3-5 minutes. (Don't skip this step-if the sauce is too hot and you add the sour cream it will curdle it) Add sour cream, chilies, and 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese and stir until sauce is smooth and sour cream is completely dissolved. Set aside.
Make the Filling:
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion, jalapeno, and garlic and sauté until slightly softened about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add Shrimp and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes or until pink just start to turn pink. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, fresh cilantro. Add one cup of prepared sauce and stir to combine.
- Lay tortilla on a flat surface and spoon 1/3 cup of the shrimp mixture in the center, roll tightly and lay seam side down into the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and shrimp mixture. Pour the cream sauce evenly over the top and sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheese evenly over top. Place in preheated oven and bake, covered, until lightly golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let the enchiladas sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.