El Monterrey Enchilada Sauce

El Monterrey Enchilada Sauce

My mama was raised in New Mexico where I was born. The food memories I have are so colorful growing up in Clovis, NM and West Texas (Amarillo). The one bright memory is when mama would make enchiladas. We had them on special occasions such as Christmas and when we expected guests.  She made them in the way that she grew up with, the way that everyone from the Texas Panhandle had eaten if they had ever dined Mexican cuisine in Clovis. The enchiladas of my childhood were covered with a thick layer of melted cheddar and each enchilada roll enveloped by the the most memorable enchilada “sauce”. When mama got ready to make this special dish she got out the golden can of powder called El Monterrey Enchilada Sauce.  This memorable can was the one that mama let me pry open with the spoon when I helped her cook. My first sniff of Cumin came from that very can.   That was probably the beginning of my spicy culinary adventure.

This sauce originated in the El Monterrey Restaurant that made the spicy enchilada gravy famous. This was a staple in every cook’s kitchen around Clovis and the Texas Panhandle surrounding areas.

I found this photo on the internet of the now abandoned family restaurant, El Monterrey, which has stood in Clovis, NM since 1934. I thought the only Mexican food in the world came from the El Monterrey and my family kitchens for all of my childhood. Mexican food WAS the El Monterrey.  Please do not confuse the disgusting El Monterey frozen Mexican food for the quality of food that originated in this wonderful place.  Not the same at all.

 So what is all the hype? El Monterrey is a sauce that turns into a rich brown gravy when mixed with water, creating Mexican magic when you dip tortillas into it before rolling into enchiladas. El Monterrey is only available in Clovis now. El Monterrey is unforgettable.

 I remember when my Aunt Cathy moved to Michigan my mother and grandmother would send her cans of El Monterrey during the holidays. It is something that reminds us of our heritage and youth, and something we cannot be without. Even our own family living in Amarillo would stock up when we went to visit my grandparents.  I remember you could buy this in Bovina and Texico too.  If we forgot to get it while in Clovis, we would always make an emergency stop on the way home in one of those two towns.

Sadly as most stories go, the restaurant eventually closed, and the magic El Monterrey sauce disappeared for a while, but was resurrected by one of the sons of the family, and is now available again in vinyl pouches.

You can purchase them online in case and half case quantities.   Pricy but worth it for someone who needs the comfort of this sauce.

During my desperation for El Monterrey, I found an old ad in the Texas Monthly Magazine that has the original recipe for the Enchiladas printed on it.  Click on the Ad to see the original restaurant recipe.

Mama made hers like this only she put refried beans into the ground beef. I didn’t like the raw onions so she sauteed them first in the oil that she put the tortillas in to soften them before rolling out. Otherwise, this is mom’s recipe.  Mama also sometimes covered them in Velveeta instead of cheddar.  I remember daddy shaving off the cheese into squares and her perfectly covering her pan of enchiladas as he sat at the dinner table reading his newspaper while he waited for the feast.  Memories like these are all I have since both of my parents are gone now.   I hope that those of you that grew up in this area are as fond of El Monterrey as everyone was that grew up during this time.

You don’t want to buy a case of the stuff? I have great news!  During the horrifying several-year disappearance of the yellow and blue can from store shelves, someone (mama?) came up with the following recipe for El Monterrey Sauce and after mama passed, I found it in her possessions and massive recipe collection, and although I’ve not tried it since I still have my pouches, for those of you not able to get this enchilada gravy, it would be worth the try.   I have heard back from several people that the Spice Mix recipe is absolutely divine!  Go ahead and try it today!   Recipe below.

Photo Credits:  El Monterrey Restaurant:  C. Massey,   El Monterrey Sauce Package:  tina in PVB @Flickr

El Monterrey loosely translates to “King of the Hill” in Spanish.

King of the Hill (El Monterrey) Enchilada Sauce Dry Mix

Rating: 51

Yield: 4 C. Dry Powder Mix

Calories per serving: Who cares?!

Fat per serving: You will...again who cares?!

King of the Hill (El Monterrey) Enchilada Sauce Dry Mix

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 8 oz. chili powder
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 T. salt
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. oregano

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together and store in airtight container.
  2. To Use Mix:
  3. 2/3 C. of dry mix with 1 QT of water and cook together in saucepan on stove at medium heat until well blended and thickened.
  4. Small Amount:
  5. Use 1/3 C. dry mix to 1 PT of water, cook together on stove until well blended and thickened.

Notes

Store in the freezer and use the freshest spices you can find. You may cut this in half if you like and make smaller batches.

http://thespicytexan.com/travel/el-monterrey-enchilada-sauce/

 

  1. Tammy Gonzales says:

    I still use this to this day. Love this stuff. Thanks for reminding me I need to make some enchildas. 🙂

  2. Julie Bromley says:

    Lori, Thank you for sharing this recipe. My family is scattered all over the country…some of them on Long Island, New York. They can’t get good Mexican food there so I sent them a link to this recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  3. Jim Sullivan says:

    Lori,
    I was stationed at Cannon AFB from mid ’57 to Feb ’60. Never had the pleasure of El
    Monterrey, but ate often at the Silver Grill where my favorite was their “B order”, beef enchilada. The sauce was much as you describe; a rich brown gravy like sauce, that I have tried for years to duplicate. I’ve never come very close. Letters to the food editor of the Clovis paper produced no results, not even a reply. I will try your recipe and advise my results. Thank you for a good starting place.
    Best regards,
    Jim
    Santa Cruz, CA

    • Lori says:

      Hi Jim! I have a friend also raised in Clovis familiar with the restaurant. We both agree this is the recipe!! He’s now living in Australia and can wow everyone with this wonderful sauce! I hope that this one will be even better than the “B order” of the Silver Grill!! Make sure to soften the tortillas before rolling.

    • Becky says:

      Though the restaurant is closed, the sauce is still available at least locally at S & S Supermarket,in Clovis NM, and still made by the original family from what I know. Delicious!

  4. Jim Sullivan says:

    Lori,
    Sorry to stuff your box like that. I thought awaiting moderation meant it needed to be shorter. Please delete all the repeats so I don’t look so stupid. My sincere apology.
    Best regards,
    Jim

  5. Making El Monterrey enchiladas was a tradition with my mom. I lived in Farwell, Tx. Which is on the border of Texico/Clovis. I was so sad when it was gone. So glad it is back. I may try the recipe. But I can find it here in Lubbock. I want to continue to support El Monterrey makers. So I’ll continue to buy it!!! Many Many memoryies. Thank you!

  6. heather silva says:

    my folks in roswell eat this three times a week. so does my banker barry stone. I grew up eating there and la hacienda around the corner on davis street. to this day I HAVE NOT FOUND a real good Mexican place to eat anywhere in New Mexico

  7. Paula McMinn says:

    I used El Monterrey sauce for years then it disappeared from the grocery store. I am so glad to have the recipe. It was by far the best and I have really missed it.

  8. Dale Blackstone says:

    Now I wish you would post the recipe for enchiladas to use the sauce on…thanks.

  9. Mike Lawson says:

    Born and raised in Clovis, moved away for 45rears and back again. Enjoyed El Monterrey restaurant and making my own El M enchiladas but my Guadalahara restaurant until it’s closure. Mary Castilla was the best

  10. Mike Lawson says:

    Oops!!! Needed to proofread my reply--Moved away for 45 years ago

  11. Edna says:

    United grocery stores here in Lubbock carry the sauce…I too was very happy that they started making it again. My husband was stationed in Clovis and we loved the restaurant, and with my hometown being Dimmitt, Texas, I grew up using the sauce .
    .

  12. JoAnn Kinzie Stowers says:

    It was like a Christmas gift seeing the info on El Monterrey enchilada sauce. I was born & raised in Clovis, need I say more. Thanks so much for the recipe

    • Lori says:

      I lived in Clovis too and raised in Amarillo with many of my family still in Clovis over the years. They have all moved on and passed on now but so many years with the city in my heart.

      • Charlotte wright newbill says:

        Grew up in Clovis on El Monterrey food! Would love to have both chili relleno and quest recipe. Didn’t at either as a kid, but love it now.

  13. Patti McCarty Stevenson says:

    I remember waiting for up to an hour on a Sat nite to get seated at the El Monterrey. Grew up in Muleshoe and Friona. While in college in Atlanta and Athens, GA, my Mom would mail me cans of El Monterrey Sauce; the night before my first wedding, we took all the Georgia family to eat at El Monterrey… and of course they had THE BEST lemon merengue pie in the world, too.

    • Lori says:

      I don’t remember the pie at all, maybe because we were always too full of the enchiladas to have dessert! I think everyone who ever ate there that cooked, was mailed or mailed some sauce to someone!

  14. Marcella chavez-roy says:

    Thanks for the recipe:) my grandma made her sauce this way n have always wanted to duplicate it but never came out the same. Maybe just maybe this will come close;) I grew up on Reid St n went to Our Lady of Guadalupe:)
    Thanks Again

    • Lori says:

      Marcella I bet you will find this is very close to your grandma’s, however, who can ever duplicate a grandma’s recipe? Let me know how it turns out!

  15. Lori,

    Thank you for a trip down memory lane….
    I grew up at Bovina (my daddy at Farwell) When we moved to Colorado and no longer had El Monterrey enchilada sauce..friends and relatives would bring coveted cans of blue and yellow when they came to visit. We raise pinto beans…so we would trade beans for enchilada sauce! Great comfort food and great memories…..

  16. Mary gustin says:

    Thank you so much for posting! We spent many hours eating there-it was a great place. I can’t get the mix either and have wanted for years to get a recipe. I am also very interested in the recipe for the chile rellenos. I loved them, and have had many attempts trying to duplicate them!

    • Lori says:

      I’ll dig out a Relleno recipe from mom’s collection that I know originated in Clovis. Since I don’t know how they tasted, you can try it and let me know!

  17. Bryan says:

    Lori,

    Great story. I lived in Clovis a short time and have family there still. Every thanksgiving and Christmas I make enchiladas using El Monterrey which my aunt Joan mails me every 6 months. My kids believe everyone else is crazy for having turkey and ham on holidays. Thanks for for sharing. Bryan

    • Lori says:

      I haven’t carried on the enchilada tradition on Christmas but it might be great to revive it!! Many blessings to you in the new year and thanks for commenting.

  18. Debbie Menefee Mefford says:

    I grew up in Friona and still get the now plastic containers of the enchilada sauce every time my Mom visits her sister in Muleshoe. My boys grew up on this sauce and will not eat any other. I ate there close to every Saturday night. Thanks for sharing the picture, sure brought back some good memories.

    • Lori says:

      It is really amazing when you think about food or scents and memories come to the surface. It is beautiful how our bodies and brains are designed.

  19. Shauna says:

    I love this sauce and we bought some from S&S and I can now make it in Las Vegas. I am going to make some this week! Some great memories in Clovis and the great Mexican food there.

    • Lori says:

      Our next door neighbor in Clovis was a cook in several of the restaurants in Clovis and taught my mother some recipes. There were some really great restaurants in the day.

  20. elaine starkey says:

    I grew up in Clovis in the 50s, and my family still lives there. I was really bummed when el Monterey closed, and everytime I go back I go looking for the sauce. My uncle Bob and aunt Cleo would go for enchiladas every Friday night I think.Loved their chile rellenos.I’ll be by in the sauce as long as they make it, but it’s really good to have the recipe in case I run out or they stop making it.

    • Lori says:

      My mama made Rellenos, but I wasn’t interested in them as a child. Now I have developed a more spicy palate, I may need to look through her recipes for Chile Rellenos.

  21. Leanna says:

    Oh boy did this bring back memories! I remember eating there as a child. My whole family would drive over from Sudan,TX. It was my Great Grandfathers favorite place to eat. My 87 year old Grandmother still ships me packets all the way in Georgia! I can not wait to try making my own just in case I run out before the next shipment. LOL

    • Lori says:

      How wonderful that your grandmother ships you the packets! It seems that anyone that lived in Clovis in the time, remembers similar memories as a child. Let me know how your recipe turns out for you!

  22. CAROL WHITE says:

    Thank you for posting this. El Monterey was almost a weekly visit for our family from Friona and we have many stories and happy memories of eating there. I think my first trip was when I was 3 weeks old. At least that is the story my Mom likes to tell. If you get the rellenos recipe please post it too, as I would like to surprise my family with one of their favorites.

  23. Norma says:

    I grew up in Dimmitt, TX and this was the only sauce we ever used, I still send it to my son and his wife in VA. I may try to make this but I will continue to buy it as long as I can. We live in Ruidoso now but I get my in Lubbock.

  24. Rhonda says:

    I grew up on this Enchilada sauce and I have many happy memories of going there with family an my special love when I was growing up It s a tradition on Christmas Eva and a much treasured packet of magic for me. Thanks for spreading the word.

  25. Janie says:

    Does anyone know a spoon or cup amount for 8 ounces of chili powder?

  26. Was excited to see recipe! I am still here in Clovis so I can buy it, but if they ever stop making it now I have recipe, thanks. Would also love recipe for chili rellanos and salad with egg in bottom.

    • Lori says:

      I do have my mom’s chile rellano recipe but I didn’t ever eat the ones from the restaurant so I have no idea if it is similar.

  27. Candace Barton Rice says:

    It has been so much fun to read all of the comments about our favorite enchilada sauce! I too have many memories of going to El Monterey, both when we lived out near Abernathy and after we moved to California and went back to visit our family in Farwell and Clovis. My husband and I just had “Enchilada Soup” at a fancy little brewery in San Diego county. Two days later, I re-created it (even better of course) using my little packet of El Monterey. I added broth and chicken and some onions, garlic and cheese and it was amazing! My entire family still loves the enchiladas, I was taught by my mom, who was raised in Farwell, to make them almost exactly as you see on the old recipe. I now just make some with onions and some without, some with only cheese and onions. The only difference is that we don’t put cheese inside with the hamburger meat, we just put a whole bunch on top! Thank you for your post, it brings back so many wonderful memories of GIANT family dinners at El Monterey.

  28. Bridget says:

    Lori, I have a friend who lives in Arkansas but lived in Clovis for years. One time she was driving through Clovis on her way back to Arkansas. It was early in the morning, before the restaurant opened for service, so she went and banged on the back door until they opened up and sold her some sauce mix.

  29. Steve Graves says:

    Hello Lori,

    I was just made aware of this blog today. Let me begin by saying that I could eat enchiladas three times a day and most likely never get tired of them. Back in the early 70s I was a traveling calculator salesman and I lived in Amarillo. Clovis, NM was in my sales territory and I looked forward to eating lunch nearly every Wednesday at the El Monterrey. Later on in the 70s, my friends from Amarillo and I would drive to Clovis, 110 miles one way, just to eat at the El Monterrey. Well, one Saturday morning my friends and I were all in an enchilada mood but didn’t feel like driving to Clovis because it had recently snowed and we didn’t want to trudge through the weather to get to Clovis. So, in one of my few moments of brilliance, I decided to call the El Monterrey to see if they could ship some of their wonderful enchilada sauce to us by bus. When Weed Smith, who I believe was a member of the restaurant family, returned from the bus station in Clovis, he called us to let us know that the sauce was on its way to Amarillo. He also requested, in a friendly manner, to please never ask him to do that again. We all got a laugh out of that and we cooked up some really great enchiladas later on that day.

    My wife Nora and I now live in northern Virginia where good Mexican food can be difficult to find, but we still have friends who send the El Monterrey sauce to us from time to time.

  30. Dave in Omaha says:

    So my wife and I were just in Clovis last week and we picked up a case of El Monterrey sauce from S & S Supermarket for $90.96 (24 8oz bags for $3.79 per bag). Our family always keeps a supply on hand. If you order it online from them it’s $112. My wife’s mom made these for special occassions, and every Mothers Day her and her sisters get together and make a ton of enchiladas in her memory. This Mother’s Day I am going to use your recipe along side the original and do a blind taste test to see just how accurate your recipe for the sauce is. I will come back after Mothers Day and let you know how your blend faired.

  31. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for posting both the recipe and the link to purchase online. (I’ve already added it to my favorites.) Because I have great family and friends who still live in or travel to the area, I haven’t ever run out, but I’m down to my last two packages! I’ll try the on-line purchase so I can support a small business, but keep the recipe for an emergency. I also use El Monterrey as the seasoning when I make my homemade taquitos. I live in Oregon, and they are one of the things my friends love to eat when they come to my home.

  32. Now what about the queso dip they had on the table,

  33. Claire Roberts says:

    What a walk down Memory Lane this has been! I lived in Clovis for 50 years, and loved El Monterrey. I moved from there to eastern Idaho, and lived there for seven years. There are a lot of Mexicans in Idaho, and many Mexican restaurants in Idaho Falls. But — the Mexicans there made tamales that were very different from New Mexican tamales. I didn’t have good tamales again until I moved to Florida.

    I lived just a couple of blocks from S&S and did all my grocery

  34. Jann Allen says:

    I am still in touch with Lee White’s wife, and they get this all the time! But I asked my local United Supermarket in Canyon, TX to carry the pkgs and he’s had it for several years now. Prior to that, I would pick up a case or two when I was in Clovis (still have family there), and I do mail it to our daughter in Sacramento. Let me know when you get the Chili Relleno recipe- I hope it’s crunchy, not corny-dog bread-ish batter.

  35. Barbara Rogers says:

    Just curious why my comment on the El post.

  36. Tina G. says:

    I used to go with my parents to eat at El Monterrey in Clovis -- LOVED it! I used to be able to buy it at our local meat market in Hereford. I moved to the Kansas City area and REALLY need to have some of this (even if I have to buy it by the case, lol!). The so-called Tex-Mex food up here is nothing like it is in Texas & New Mexico and we miss it!

    I can’t wait to try your recipe -- Tex-Mex is sadly lacking up here and I need some fast! I’m so glad I found your website!
    Thank you!!

  37. Serena says:

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I love this sauce. I grew up in Amarillo, but we would always visit friends in Clovis & eat at this place. When I was in Amarillo last time, my grandpa’s wife made enchiladas with this sauce and I freaked out cause she had the actual bag of sauce so I made sure to stock up while I was in town. But my stock is getting low. So, I’ll have to try this. BTW, if anyone wants to know where I got the sauce it was at Amigo’s United off of Grand St.
    Thanks again!

  38. Ruth Guinn says:

    Husbands family from Muleshoe so he grew up on El Monterry food. We live in Arizna so good Mexican food is unheard of! He Uses the sauce to make enchiladas to share here. We recently had a request for the green salad with egg but can’t duplicate it. And ideas?

    • doug doss says:

      Hi Ruth I’m from muleshoe and ate at El monterrey a lot and we moved to Willcox az as a lot of people did just wondered if your family lived in willcox

  39. Karen Lenderman says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe and the memories! I grew up in Texico and eating at the El Monterrey was one of my favorite things to do. I, too, lamented the loss of the sauce. We stock up on it now every time we go “home”. It is simply the very best.

  40. doug doss says:

    Hi Lori i was raised in muleshoe TX my dad would take us to El monterrey about once a week during late fifties and early sixties we moved to az and I have been craving those enchiladas since 1965. Thanks for the recipe i can’t wait to try it

    y it

  41. Kevin Hardage says:

    Wow! I have so enjoyed reading all the posts. I grew up in Farwel with the all the too familiar memories of ‘El Monterrey’ just like most everyone here. A few years back we were hanging out at a dear drummer friend’s place in Ruidoso. He showed me an entire pantry of the sauce. Come to find out, my brother, family, & friends all keep it stocked. I live in Branson, MO & just got a buncha packs in the mail from my oldest son!…then I found this sight…I just had to post.
    Love your site,
    thanks,
    Kevin

  42. Marie Smith says:

    My roots are in Portales and one of my earliest memories was El Monterrey in early 1950’s. We now live in eastern Idaho and have several of the yellow packets on hand. With the popularity of Mexican restaurants all over the U.S. the food and atmosphere of the southeastern New Mexico cannot be found. Besides the sauces that are so unique (maybe it was the chiles they used), the side of sopapillas and honey are only found there. It is sad to see the old family traditions like El Monterrey, Guadalajara, and La Hacienda in Portales close. I am grateful for the families that ran those restaurants that allowed my family to create so many sensual memories.

  43. TONY RANDOLPH says:

    LORI, I GREW UP IN FORT SUMNER, NM. AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH MY FAMILY DROVE TO CLOVIS TO EAT AT EL MONTERREY. WE HAD ENCHILLADAS AND RELLANOS AND THE SALAD./EGG AND SAUCE.

    I AM NOW IN MESA AZ AND I GET A SHIPMENT OF EL MONTERREY SAUCE ABOUT EVERY 6 MONTHS AND SHARE WITH MY KIDS. WELL WORTH THE TROBLE TO ORDER. I WILL TRY THE RECEIPE, BUT CONTINUE TO ORDER MY “STUFF”. HOPE YOU FIND THE RELLANO AND SALAD RECEIPES.

  44. Kim says:

    We had 2 uncles that lived in Clovis, NM and they would bring this to us when they visited and Mom would always stock up if we went out there. Wonderful memories having enchiladas made with this sauce. My brother sent me a text about it so we googled and found your recipe. We are having it for Christmas dinner this year! I am now 51 and he is 48…

  45. Shannon says:

    Hi, my mom was raised in Portales but went back and forth to clovis. I was raised on El Monterey. My aunt still lives in clovis and keeps me well supplied. My favorite thing to do with left over enchilada is to cut them up and throw them in a pot with water and make enchilada soup. Served with chips. A little cheese and sour cream on top! Yummy thanks for sharing.

  46. Sherreta Lane says:

    My mom and her sisters shared a suitcase. When my mom visited Portales, the suitcase would come home to us filled with cans of El Monterrey sauce. Then when my aunts visited Sacramento, they would go clothes shopping (lots better shopping here than Portales back in those pre-Amazon days). Thanks for the link and more importantly, the memories!! Of course, now I’m jonesing for my mom’s homemade enchiladas.

  47. Jeff in PA says:

    Hi Lori and Friends,

    I live in PA now and my mother still lives in Clovis. She called yesterday to tell me that El Monterrey enchilada sauce is no longer being made or sold. Something to do with a dispute with the state health department. She went to S&S Market in Clovis, which always used to have the sauce in stock, and the manager told her he can’t sell it any longer. This recipe will be pure gold now.

    Jeff

  48. Amber says:

    I have ran out of this WONDERFUL mix I grew up on. My grandparents and many of ny Grandma’s family lived in Portales when I was a kid. (my gma was one of 16!!) I have been hankering for this….and our daughters love it in a dish we call slumgullion (hamburger meat, cheddar cheese soup on can, a small tomato sauce, a little water and the el Monterrey sauce all cooked up and serve over fritos. I could not find online a place to order it, but right her in Oklahoma we can now make it with your recipe!!! Thanks sooooooooo much!!! Have a blessed day!!

  49. Jim Clements says:

    Lori,
    Thx for all of your information about the El Monterrey. All comments are wonderful.
    Several years ago we went to S&S to get the famous sauce. They told us they had a mix but it wasn’t the original. Do you know if this is true or not.
    Thank you

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