Beef Enchilada Casserole (with easy homemade enchilada sauce)

Holy cow!! This is THE BEST dish ever! More like beef enchilada lasagna, with layers of corn tortillas, seasoned beef, gooey cheese, black beans, corn, and the world's easiest and tastiest enchilada sauce. One skillet, all the flavor you crave, and no rolling tortillas!

I mean... look at that cheese! And the speckles of corn and black beans... This dish POPS in your mouth!
Dive deeper into the skillet and reach the tender corn tortillas and savory beef mixture. Layer upon layer of flavor. And so dang easy...
There's the middle!! You know you want to get in there!
About the sauce... I debated buying store-bought enchilada sauce. There are plenty of options at the grocery store, so I started reading labels. I quickly realized that most sauces contain unnecessary ingredients (like preservatives). And most were in cans, so I knew a homemade sauce would taste more FRESH; with ME in the charge of the ingredients.

This sauce is full of authentic Mexican flavor; so much flavor that I'm actually shocked how easy it is. I used a combination of dried spices (pantry staples), sautéed in oil to bring out their best flavor. I even added a small amount of cinnamon for its warmth and complexity. You can't actually taste the cinnamon, it just adds warmth. The rest is simply tomato paste, broth and a splash of vinegar (which brings out more of the tomato essence while adding a burst of freshness to the sauce). I'll be making this sauce over and over again - and I'll probably always have a big batch in the freezer.

Beef Enchilada Casserole (with easy homemade enchilada sauce)
Note: This sauce comes together quickly once you get started, so measure the dry ingredients (flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and cinnamon) before you heat the oil; and have the tomato paste and broth ready, next to the skillet. 

3 tablespoons flour (or gluten-free flour blend for a gluten-free sauce)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 pound lean ground beef
3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
6 6-inch corn tortillas or 12 street taco-size tortillas
1 cup seasoned black beans (from a can, reserve the rest for another use)
1 cup frozen corn, keep frozen until ready to use
Chopped green onions and fresh cilantro leaves for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic, powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Cook until the mixture is fragrant and slightly deeper in color, about 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Whisk in the tomato paste. Gradually whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.
Brown the beef in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks. If necessary drain away any fat and return the beef to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Transfer the beef mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the same ovenproof skillet (or casserole dish). Top the sauce with three 6-inch or 6 street taco-size tortillas, slightly overlapping the tortillas cover the surface (they won't completely cover the sauce; and that's OK) . Top the tortillas with half of the beef mixture, half of the black beans, half of the corn, and half of the cheese.
Repeat to make a second layer (stop before the cheese); starting with 1/2 cup sauce, then tortillas, beef, beans, and corn. Spoon the remaining sauce over top and then finish with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes, Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the cheese melts.
Top with green onions and cilantro leaves and serve.
Serves 4