Soon after we arrivied in California, our neighbor Anna Lee, who was from Texas, led me on my first foray into Mexican cooking, teaching me to make enchiladas. I thought this recipe was incredibly authentic because although the sauce was red, it didn't contain tomatoes.
Chop two onions into medium dice (maybe that's 1/4 inch squares) Sauté the onion in olive oil--then add chili powder--let's say pasilla chili--dark colored not very hot--since this was for the children--maybe one teaspoon--stir onions with the pepper then add a cup or so of water to make a sauce. Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of a 13”by 9” baking pan.
Prepare 12 tortillas. Sauté each one quickly in hot oil, then dip in sauce. Place tortillas in pan. Put a spoonful of grated cheese (cheddar, jack, whatever) on the tortilla--add a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, and roll into enchilada. When enchiladas are neatly lined up, cover with remainder of sauce--grate some cheese--and bake in oven until cheese is bubbly.
I used this recipe for years, but eventually it was supplanted by one from Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico which came out in a revised paperback edition in 1989. That recipe involved a more elaborate sauce with roasted tomatoes, garlic and peppers, easily added to the chili-onion mixture.