The Pioneer Woman’s Enchilada Recipe Uses a Polarizing Ingredient

The Pioneer Woman, also known as Ree Drummond, has been a mainstay in the food and lifestyle space for over a decade. Her simple, approachable style and her relatable way of preparing food for the whole family has made her a firm favorite, not just for viewers of the Food Network, but of culinary devotees of all ages and interests.

While Drummond does occasionally get slammed by critics for her habit of utilizing certain “store-bought” ingredients such as canned soups, her fans love that she offers shortcut solutions for busy families. One of Drummond’s fan-favorite recipes is her method for preparing enchiladas, a classic Tex-Mex staple. However, Drummond’s version includes at least one ingredient that has made the recipe a bit divisive. 

Drummond is famous for creating easy, family recipes

Drummond first burst onto the culinary scene in 2010, with the widespread popularity of her blog, The Pioneer Woman. Drummond, who had been blogging for several years before rising to almost cult popularity, gained a following among those who loved country living, homeschooling, ranching, and, of course, cooking.

By 2011, Drummond’s cooking show had debuted on the Food Network, introducing her to a whole new audience of fans.

Drummond’s cooking style has remained largely unchanged over the years, even though she has dabbled in low-carb cooking a few times. She prefers to stick to recipes that are simple, guaranteed hits with families and for those with small children. Many of Drummond’s recipes include shortcut ingredients, and most of her most popular recipes can be whipped up in around 45 minutes or less. 

Drummond’s enchiladas are a savory favorite

Ree Drummond smiling and wearing a blue top
Ree Drummond | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hearst

In 2008, Drummond shared a recipe for enchiladas on her blog. The recipe has since become a Pioneer Woman staple and one that many people turn to when they need to prepare a simple, savory dinner.

The sauce for the enchiladas is made from combining a can of store-bought enchilada sauce (either red or green) along with some additional spices and chicken broth in a saucepan. While the sauce is simmering, a filling of cooked ground beef, onions, and green chilies is cooked on the stovetop.

When the filling and the sauce are done, prepare the enchiladas by stuffing corn tortillas with the meat, shredded cheese, diced olives, and green onions. Place the filled enchiladas in a pan and pour the sauce all over them. After baking in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes, remove the enchiladas from the oven and sprinkle with some fresh, diced cilantro. 

Olives are not a traditional ingredient for enchiladas

There’s no doubt that Drummond’s enchilada recipe is delicious, but for some staunch traditionalists, it is hardly true Tex-Mex. Enchiladas have been a staple in Mexican cuisine for many decades, and over the years, there have been a number of variations on the original recipe, which likely featured corn tortillas and a simple meat filling. Oftentimes, enchiladas are made with just cheese as a filling, and beans are often included in some form. One thing that most traditional enchilada recipes do not include is olives.

Traditionalists might hesitate to include the olives called for in Drummond’s recipe — but the cookbook author added a note to her recipe, stating that cooks shouldn’t be afraid to try them in the enchiladas: “If you hate black olives, don’t be deterred by its presence in this dish. You’ll hardly know they’re there—they’ll just add a tangy saltiness and texture that’ll really take the enchiladas over the top. Please. Please don’t be afraid.”

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