When I want a stick-to-the-ribs dish I make these hearty enchiladas. Delicate wheat tortillas are filled with black beans and cream cheese and rolled, then topped with a flavorful tomato chili sauce and baked until bubbly.

SERVES 4

1ВЅ cups dried black beans

2 medium onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 bay leaves

ВЅ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

SAUCE

Вј cup olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can diced tomatoes

Вј cup tomato paste

в…“ cup water

1 small can (4 ounces) mild green chiles, drained and finely diced

1 large jalapeГ±oВ pepperimageВ (fresh, pickled, or canned), seeded and minced

8 wheat tortillas (10 if they are 6-inch)

8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 (or 10) slices

1ВЅ cups (6 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese

  1. Rinse the beans in a colander or strainer under cold running water. Pick out any stones, etc. Put the beans in a medium saucepan and cover with water plus 2 inches. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the beans very well by tilting the pan to its side with the cover ajar. Pour in just enough water barely to cover the beans, and add the onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the beans until they are tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (Note: The point is to have the beans absorb most of the liquid by the time they are done so that they have a thick sauce-like consistency. If they aren’t done and more water is needed, add just a little and check the beans again when most of it is absorbed. The beans should still retain their shape when they are done.) Discard the bay leaves.
  3. Mash about one-quarter of the beans against the sides of the pot and stir to blend them. Set aside to cool.
  4. To make the sauce: In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until tender and limp, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and all their juice, tomato paste, water, chiles, and jalapeo pepper, and stir to blend. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. May be prepared to this point up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and chill the sauce and beans separately.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350В°F. To assemble the enchiladas: Spoon a little of the sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish or 2 medium dishes. Place a tortilla on your work surface and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the bean mixture down the center. (It is good to divide the filling into 8 portions beforehand.) Cut a slice of the cream cheese into 2 or 3 pieces and place on top of the beans. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
  6. Spread the sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Top each enchilada lengthwise with some of the grated cheese. This helps to identify the enchiladas when you are dishing them out. May be prepared to this point up to 2 hours in advance. Keep covered to prevent the tortillas from drying out. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.