Tuesday, April 5, 2011

tex-mex in the house

Considering the fact that I was born and raised in Texas, it makes perfect sense that I would love love LOVE Mexican food, and hold a special place in my heart for Tex-Mex. When I lives in Texas, I had Mexican and/or Tex-Mex multiple times a week. One might think that with so many fresh ingredients and native Mexicans around me that I'd have gotten some amazing authentic (or not so authentic if we're talking Tex-Mex) recipes and have perfected several scrumptious dishes. One would be very very WRONG. The thing about living in Texas is that every time you turn a corner, you see a Mexican and/or Tex-Mex restaurant. To put it simply... it was easier and cheaper to but it from a restaurant than to make it myself. Sundays at the local grocery store boasted homemade tortillas... warm, fresh and glorious... so I *could* have bought some, taken them home and made a wonderful dish... or I could take them home, throw some cheese or sour cream or, um nothing, on them and shove them in my mouth while they were still warm. Guess which route I chose.
Since moving to Chicago, there a few things I simply can't easily find. One of those things is great salsa. I am picky when it comes to salsa. A bowl or raw veggies chopped up and served with chips? not salsa. That's pico de gallo and it is ick. Pureed tomatoes with chunky raw veggies? not good salsa. In the past few years I have perfected a few great salsas that I make on a regular basis (thanks to Mexican food god, Rick Ballis). This weekend, I brought to Chicago a Tex-Mex classic that I love so dearly and have not been able to find, Sopapillas. It's basically, fried dough. The dough it rolled out like this...

Then popped into hot oil and fried for 2 minutes. The dough puffs up and leaves an empty center. Once done, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
For tasty results, slather with HONEY.

I found a recipe Here. And it was great! Although I really am not a fan of frying food, this? totally worth it! It was a perfect dessert! I froze most of the dough for future sopapilla cravings.

Now I should back track and tell you about dinner. I originally wanted to try my hand making tamales, but while researching how to make them, I realized it called for some cookware I don't have and well, the kitchen is already bursting at the seams so the purchase of more stuff is a no-go right now. After poking around at a few other options, I settled on enchiladas. I'm not a huge fan of the standard red enchilada sauce, so I went with an enchiladas verdes. I found a recipe by Tyler Florence from the food network (note my adjustments in bold blue)


Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole (I used 1/4 onion )
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced


Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (1/4 onion, again)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, store bought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded ( I cooked and shredded 4 chicken breasts)
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas (flour?? no. I used corn)
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (I used a combo of pepper jack and quesadilla queso)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa:
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.

Additional notes: I added about a cup to a cup and a half of my cheese mixture to the enchilada filling- what can I say? I love me some cheese! Also, the salsa is actually really mild. I would probably add an additional pepper next time. Possibly a serano or maybe even a habañero if I could get away with it without killing the hubs!

Here's the finished product:

It was a pretty tasty meal... the only issues I had were 1. it could have been spicier, I love me some heat! and 2. the bottom and sides of the tortillas became a bit mushy. perhaps I squeezed too many in the pan? or maybe they are supposed to be that way. Afterall, since the recipe calls for coating the pan in salsa first, it makes sense that the bottom of the enchiladas won't by crispy.
I'll admit, the recipe took quite a while and required tons of multi-tasking. I ended up having to call my husband into the kitchen and have him help out with things like shredding the chicken and shredding the cheese. It would be one of those dishes that you could prep most of the components beforehand and throw together at dinner time. Also, pretty inexpensive... ingredient-wise.

*apologies for the crappy photo quality... it was late, lighting was bad, and I was too hungry to try and improve the lighting for the photos.

1 comment:

  1. That looks yummy, with just the perfect browning of the cheese on top. Oh, and flour tortillas for enchiladas? No, thank you. Good switch!