1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp pepper
4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Zaatar* substituted for the ground cumin, though not knowing how it would change the flavor, I only used the one tsp
1 tsp oregano
8 cups tomato broth (tomato bouillon and water)
Using a cast iron skillet: Heat oil over medium heat and add flour to make a roux base. See Attempt #2 if you have any questions about the base. Let your roux cook for few minutes, while stirring, until it turns light brown in color, about the color of peanut butter. Add the dry ingredients, including the tomato bouillon, and continue cooking for about one minute. I measure them out in advance into a little bowl, and when the roux is ready, just dump them in together to keep from burning my flour. Once your mixture has cooked for one minute, add the water and stir until it is mixed. I started with one cup, just to make sure it mixed properly, then slowly added the rest, two cups at a time. Bring it to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until at desired thickness.
The Rest of the Deal
2 dozen corn tortillas
3 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (I use this now instead of the taco blend, since that one has additional spices that I don't want to interfere with my gravy flavor)
Preheat your oven to 325. Once my sauce was completed, I used about three to four ladles worth of the gravy to cover the bottom of my casserole dish. Heat some cooking oil in a small pan and run your corn tortillas through the oil until they float, and pull them out and set them aside on a paper-towel lined plate. Sprinkle cheddar cheese (around a tablespoon) in the middle of each tortilla and roll it up. Smoosh them as close as you can together. I have found that it will keep the cheese from running out too much. I have found that my pan will fit two dozen, though you may have to 'trial and error' to determine how many you can fit. Once you place them all, but them in the oven and let them bake just long enough to melt the cheese. My oven takes about 8 minutes. Last time, I poured my remaining gravy over the top and let the heat from underneath melt the cheese. This time, I took the suggestion of a friend, and served them straight out of the oven, and waited until they were on the plates to cover them with the gravy and let that melt the cheese. I have to say, this method was perfect. Everyone got enough sauce, it didn't thicken up from the heat, and there was plenty of sauce left over for tomorrow's lunch. Honestly, the flavor this time was actually the best so far as well, though I may go back to the cumin once I have time to go to the store and pick some up.
*side note: Zaatar is a seasoning blend consisting of thyme, toasted wheat, toasted mixed spices, etc. that I picked up on a whim in the Indian grocery store near where I used to teach music lessons in Pearland, Texas, simply because I liked the way it smelled. This was the first time I have actually used it. I have no idea if it is available elsewhere, but it has a similar scent to the cumin, and the taste this time was the best I have made so far, and I'm inclined to try using it again.