Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh…
Yeah, I joined an online group called the Daring Kitchen. It kind of makes me feel like I belong to some crazy underground cell of culinary superheroes with secret cooking powers. “Souffle Man!” “The Chiffonade-inator!” “Tagine Girl!” Unfortunately I have yet to meet any of these particular denizens of the Daring Kitchen. I also have not yet taken the step of wearing a spandex suit while cooking (or have I?…). But, I did think it would be fun to join because each month you get a challenge of something new to cook, and I thought it might be good for me to be intentional about slightly expanding my repertoire of cooking techniques, lest I find myself roasting absolutely everything I run into.
I was really excited that this month’s challenge was Tex-Mex because that’s something that I don’t do a lot of, but am always happy to eat, in particular because I think cilantro and avocados are so delicious I would be happy to merge with them and become a cilantracado and eat myself. (Wow, I totally sound like a crazy person! Er, sorry about that. I just really like avocados. Anyway, back to a pretense of normalcy…)
The recipe we were given was technically for green chile and grilled chicken enchiladas, and right away I ran into the trouble I always have with recipes. That being, I’m not very good about following them. But, that was okay because we were given some leeway in what we made, as long as it included a Mexican style enchilada sauce and stacking stuff between tortillas. The recipe called for grilled chicken breast, but I didn’t have any chicken left from my farm share, only ground beef. So, I fried it up and spiced it with a few big shakes of some of the spices I associate with Latin American cooking, namely chile powder and cumin. I also decided to use poblano peppers instead of anaheim chiles, mostly because they are flavorful but a bit less spicy and we were being joined for dinner by some friends, one of whom is also Norwegian, and I’m pretty sure that a person’s ability to tolerate spiciness is inversely related to the distance from the equator of their ancestral home (unless you train yourself).
I ran into another little hitch because the sauce called for cornstarch to thicken it, and it turned out that we were flat out of cornstarch. So, I instead made a roux, whisking flour into the oil and onions, and then whisking in the broth. It accomplished the thickening nicely, and I think was maybe actually better because cornstarch sometimes gives a sort of wonky flavor to sauces. The original recipe calls for corn tortillas, but I used flour tortillas because I (crassly ) prefer them, and they wound up becoming amazingly delicious and downright creamy from cooking in the sauce.
The whole thing looks rather more complicated than it is, I’d say. The only thing that is remotely more time consuming than your standard easy meal is making the sauce first. But, I have great faith that if I can roast peppers and tomatillos without burning down the house, and then make them into a tasty sauce, you can too. (Provided you can get tomatillos. They’re hard to substitute for. So, if you can’t find them, I’d make some other type of Mexican sauce completely and try that.) I served the enchiladas accompanied by a big ol’ salad packed with tomatoes and avocado. Our friends brought some really good India Pale Ale. I also made some little Grand Marnier truffles for dessert (what?!! I can make truffles, and I haven’t told you that yet! All in good time my friends…) And, we were all splendidly happy. Daring mission number 1 accomplished!
Chile beef stacked enchiladas with roasted tomatillo sauce (serves 4)
For the enchiladas:
- A bit over 1 lb. of ground beef
- About 2 tsp. each of cumin and chile powder
- Salt to taste
- 6 flour tortillas of the smaller variety (what is that? I think maybe 8 inch ones.)
- 8 oz. of grated Monterey Jack (or another fairly mild and highly meltable cheese)
- 4 cups of chile-tomatillo sauce recipe follows below
- Cilantro to garnish (optional – if you’re one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap)
- In a large frying pan, heat a little splash of olive oil over medium heat, and then fry the ground beef until cooked through. Stir in the chile, cumin, and some salt to taste.
- In another frying pan, on high heat, fry each tortilla in a small amount of oil until it’s lightly browned, just a minute or so on each side. In a baking dish large enough to hold two stacks of tortillas, spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom.
- Lay two tortillas atop the sauce then spread another half cup of sauce over them. Sprinkle half of the beef and 1/3 of the cheese over this layer, then put another two tortillas on top of the first two. Add a half cup of sauce, the rest of the beef, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top with the last two tortillas, pour the remaining sauce over and sprinkle the top with cheese.
- Bake in the oven at 450F until the sauce is thickened and the cheese is melting and bubbly – this took about 30 minutes for mine. Then remove from the oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Cut each stack in half and serve, making sure to scoop up and not waste any of the delicious sauce that is most likely oozing everywhere. Accompany with a salad that has ridiculous quantities of avocado.
For the chile tomatillo sauce:
- About 4 large poblano peppers
- 5 tomatillos (they look kind of like little green tomatoes with husks)
- about 3 Tbs. butter
- 3 Tbs. flour
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped into small pieces
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- First roast the peppers and the tomatillos in the broiler. Coat each pepper and tomatillos with a little vegetable oil and place them on a baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Put them under the broil and cook for a while – keeping a close eye on them – turning the veggies so they char evenly. When they are done they will be black and blistered. Mine all cooked at a very uneven rate so I just monitored them to see when they were done. As each pepper looks done, remove it to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool. Remove tomatillos to an uncovered surface to cool (a plate or something). Once the peppers are cool, pull out the stem then open the pepper with a knife and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it. DO NOT RINSE! Finely chop or food process the peppers and tomatillos
- Next make the pepper-tomatillo sauce. In a large saucepan melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a minute or two until they start to soften. Then stir in the flour to coat the onion and garlic. Gradually stir in the broth, stirring out any clumps, then add the tomatillos and peppers and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down to a simmer, and allow to simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced to about 4 cups – this took about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until assembling the enchiladas.