Cinco de Mayo

Alabama Living Magazine

Photos and styling by  Brooke Echols

Cook of the Month: Gabe Argo, Cullman EC

Gabe Argo is a pharmacist by trade, but he spends his spare time coming up with new recipes which he tries nearly every week. One of his favorites, Red Enchiladas with Beef, turned out to be a winner for him this month, as it was chosen for May Cook of the Month honors. The recipe calls for chuck roast, but Argo says you can use eye of round or other quality cuts of beef just as well. His recipe is a combination of a couple of recipes which he modified. For example, if onions or jalapenos don’t agree with you, you can substitute onion powder and bell pepper. “What makes this recipe is the homemade enchilada sauce,” he says, which includes tomato sauce, the flavor of browned beef bits and red cooking wine. “This is a good dish for a decent size family meal,” he says. Argo estimates he’s been cooking seriously for 10 years, often preparing meals on Sunday that he can use for lunch all week. His coworkers at Anderson Pharmacy in Altoona where he works especially enjoy it when he brings in leftovers to share.

Red Enchiladas with Beef

  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 sweet or yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2-3 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese
  • 12 large flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven. Add half the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate or bowl. Add remaining vegetable oil and repeat with remaining beef. Remove second batch of beef and place with the previously browned beef. Pour off all but one tablespoon of oil from Dutch oven and add onion plus 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and oregano and cook and stir for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce and wine, being sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Return beef and any juices to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer beef to a plate. Pour sauce through a fine-mesh strainer. Push on the solids with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid out. Discard the solids. You should have at least 2 cups of sauce. Once meat has cooled some, shred it with 2 forks. Place it in a medium bowl and add 1/4 cup of sauce and 1 cup shredded cheese. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9×13-inch pan. Spread 3/4 cup of sauce in the bottom. Spray the tortillas on both sides with vegetable cooking spray. Bake for 1 minute or until warm and pliable. Place 1/3 cup of beef mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish.

Pour 1 to 1 1/4 cups of sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover with foil (spray the underside with cooking spray so the cheese won’t stick). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with cilantro. Cook’s note: Substitute one-half green bell pepper for the jalapeno for less spice.

Party Shrimp Pozole Verde

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 24-ounce jar salsa verde
  • 1 32-ounce carton chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cans yellow hominy, rinsed
  • 1-1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined

In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the oil and heat on medium-high. Add the onions and reduce heat to medium, stirring onions about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, then the salsa verde. Add the oregano and the hominy and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When soup is boiling, add the shrimp, then take the soup off the heat (shrimp cooks fast). Serve with tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, grated cheese, sour cream, and sliced radishes. Cook’s note: Be sure not to keep the shrimp at a boil longer than a minute. You may make the soup a day ahead of time, just don’t add the shrimp until right before serving. An easy, flavorful take on the authentic dish. Guests may choose their own toppings.

Anna Felkins, Cullman EC

Good Morning, Cinco de Mayo

  • 1 pound ground sausage (I used hot venison)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 16-ounce cans pinto beans 
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 8-ounce package mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook and crumble the sausage in a skillet. Drain off any excess grease. Add the two cans of tomatoes and the two cans of the beans. Do not drain the tomatoes or beans. Add the taco seasoning and salt. Simmer and stir all of this together until the liquid has reduced. Using a big spoon, make 4 pits in the sausage, bean and tomato mixture. Crack one egg in each pit. Place lid on the skillet and simmer/steam on low until the egg whites have set. Sprinkle the whole bag of mozzarella cheese over the cooked dish. Place the lid back on and steam until the cheese is melted. Makes 4 hearty servings and takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare. A great breakfast or brunch recipe.  

Joy Griswold, Dixie EC

Mexican Lentil Casserole 

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can lentils, drained
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon each smoked paprika and cumin 
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips 
  • 1/2 cup Monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large ovenproof saucepan, sauté the onion, poblano pepper and celery in oil for 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils, rice, tomato paste and seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serves 6.

Phyllis Dubey, Baldwin EMC

The Buttered Home

Fresh and Easy Pico de Gallo is one of my favorite fresh treats. It reminds me of summer’s bounty with fresh onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and lime juice. We soften the cilantro up with a bit of mint. Have this anytime of the year to get that fresh fix! It’s the perfect addition to your Cinco de Mayo celebration! For more recipes, visit

Fresh and Easy Pico de Gallo

  • 5 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 2 small jalapeños
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 1 whole lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Chop the red onion into small bits. CAREFULLY open up those small jalapeños and CAREFULLY seed and remove the membrane. Dice about the same size as the onions. Cut tomatoes in half and seed and dice the same size as the peppers. Chop the mint and cilantro. Juice the lime. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as well as the mint and cilantro.

Squeeze the whole lime on top and mix! Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator. Steep it for at least 30 minutes but overnight is preferred.


Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Monthly Newsletter

Get a sneak preview of each month’s magazine when you sign up! 


While You're Here

Related Posts


Never Miss A Story

Get our Weekly recap with the latest news, articles and resources.
Cookie policy
We use our own and third party cookies to allow us to understand how the site is used and to support our marketing campaigns.

Sign up for our e-newsletter

for the latest articles, news, events, announcements and alerts from Alabama Living