Man, time is flying recently, isn't it? I can't believe that it is the middle of May already. But you know what that means... Daring Cook posting time!
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.
A Cinco de Mayo challenge? Sweet! I love Mexican food! Chicken enchiladas? Yum. I am totally up for this challenge! I planned on making it for Cinco de Mayo, but my husband's work travel dictated that we celebrate on siete de Mayo. No problem - two extra days to study the recipe!
This recipe challenge had many components, so this will be (as usual) a long and picture heavy post. It was so much fun, though, so I hope you enjoy reading about it.
The first aspect of the challenge was the green chile enchilada sauce, which was new to me on several fronts. The sauce is made with tomatillos, which I had never tried before, and Anaheim peppers, a variety of pepper with which I was unfamiliar. I knew this would be interesting. I scoped out our local Produce Junction to make sure that they had those items in stock, and my confidence grew when I consistently saw them on the board. Until, that is, the day I finally went in to purchase them. That was the day that they were out of tomatillos. Of course. And Anaheim peppers? Not even listed on the board that day. Uh oh. I am not a pepper expert, but knew that Anaheims are relatively mild, but flavorful. I was pretty sure that poblanos, which were listed on the board that day, would fit the bill. I asked for poblano peppers, and the man pointed me towards the front table. Uh oh. I have no idea what different peppers look like. I grab the bag it looks like he is pointing to, and when he nods, I assume that I have the right thing. Good to go for one of the two key ingredients...
Back on the search for tomatillos, I headed over to one of the five supermarkets that I am fortunate enough to have in easy driving distance. I chose the one that has the biggest, most varied variety of produce, knowing that tomatillos are not a common ingredient in the Northeast. As luck would have it, they had plenty of tomatillos at a reasonable price, so I thought I was back on track. Out of curiosity, I strolled by the pepper section, where I found that they had Anaheims as one of their varieties. And poblanos. Poblano peppers that looked nothing like what the man at Produce Juntion had pointed out to me. Uh oh. After a quick perusal of the other pepper varieties, it soon became clear to me that what I had been sold was, in fact, a two pound bag of jalapeno peppers. Hot, spicy, jalapeno peppers. Not mild, flavorful, poblano peppers. I quickly grabbed a few of the Anaheims.
The first step in making the sauce, ingredients finally in hand, is to roast the peppers. I decided to roast a few of the jalapenos, too. Little miss helped me prepare the peppers for roasting, which involves coating them with an oil that can withstand high temperatures. I chose canola. Little miss painted the peppers with the oil while I placed the oven race in its highest position and turned on the broiler. Roasting peppers under the broiler can be a little scary, as it involves charring them on all sides very close to the heating element, keeping both the stems and, you know, the oven, from catching fire. Once the peppers were evenly charred, they are put into a bowl and covered tightly with plastic wrap, where they basically steam through until they are cool enough to handle. Once cooled, the stems and seeds are carefully removed, as is the charred outside skin. The resulting roasted peppers were then chopped and set aside.
The next ingredient in the sauce was the tomatillos. The recipe called for the tomatillos to be boiled to soften them up. I decided, instead, to roast them, along with the onions and garlic called for in the sauce. Never having worked with tomatillos before, I wasn't sure exactly how to proceed, so I decided to use a similar process as with the peppers, painting them with oil, but rather than broiling them, I roasted the vegetables in a 350 degree oven, checking them every ten minutes until they felt soft throughout.
As a side note, the tomatillos were very interesting to work with. When I first heard of tomatillos, I thought they were just a green variety of tomato. Turns out that, while the tomatillo is in the same family as tomatoes, it is not a variety of tomato. Also, unlike tomatoes, tomatillos have a papery husk that must be removed. Little miss was more than happy to help me with that. And it only took a couple for us to get the hang of it.
Anyway, back to the sauce. All of the ingredients peeled, roasted, de-seeded, chopped and ready to go, my trusty mini-blender handled turning all of the vegetables into sauce. After a quick spin, the puree was poured into a pot, simmered with some chicken broth, thickened with some cornstarch and presto! Green chile enchilada sauce! A quick taste told me that the one jalapeno that I was brave enough to include definitely added zing to the sauce, making a flavorful, though somewhat spicy sauce that went right into the fridge, to let the flavors meld until enchilada construction the next day. Yum.
Except that I would be serving these enchiladas to a four year old. Who doesn't always eat spicy things. So the next morning I decided to make a traditional red enchilada sauce, too. I chose this recipe, but used about half of the chili powder that was called for, since I was aiming for a mild, child-friendly version. The sauce came together really easily, and soon joined its green counterpart in the fridge in anticipation of becoming part of an enchilada stack.
The next component of the challenge to tackle was the tortillas. Homemade tortillas were optional to the challenge, but was something that I wanted to do. I had made tortillas once before and knew how tasty the homemade variety is, so thought that, this being a challenge, I might as well go all in and make them again for my stacks. Most flour tortilla recipes are pretty similar, but I chose this one, as I usually love the things I see on her blog, so I knew it was a trusted source.
Little miss was happy to help in many of the aspects of preparing the tortillas, and I was more than happy to let her. She mixed the dry ingredients:
Cut in the shortening:
And then helped me roll the dough into ping-pong-ball sized balls:
At this point, I took over, since the next steps involved timing and, well, a very hot pan. Each of the balls was carefully rolled into as close an approximation of a circle as I could manage. Each of these was then placed carefully onto a hot pan, where they cooked pretty quickly. It took a few practice tortillas to get the right balance of rolling, timing and temperature, but once I got the rhythm, they cooked up pretty easily. Once on the pan, the tortillas cook pretty quickly, and need to be flipped once the surface begins to bubble. Once flipped, the second side cooks pretty quickly and the whole tortilla inflates beautifully. It was fun to watch, both for me and for little miss. So glad I decided to make my own tortillas for this!
The last piece was the easiest to prepare - the chicken. Instead of grilling my chicken, I baked it, using only a little bit of broth in the pan to flavor it. I wanted the chicken to be both mild (to let the flavors of the enchilada sauces stand out) and moist (so that it could be shredded), so the oven was the simplest solution.
That was a lot of prep work, but I was finally ready to stack up some enchiladas! I decided to make one stack with each kind of sauce, so I used foil to divide my pan in half, and began the side-by-side layering process. Layering enchiladas is even easier than rolling them, since you don't have to worry about them unrolling in the pan. Sauce, tortilla, chicken, cheese, repeat - this was the easiest part of the process! The stacks went together quickly and easily, and went into the oven with enough time for me to, well, wash the mountain of dishes that resulted from the entire process. And make some rice, boil up some black beans, and cut up some tomato and avocado.
By the time these were ready to come out of the oven, I was so ready to see this meal finally come together. When I pulled out the pan of oeey, gooey, cheesy, delicious goodness out of the oven, I knew that all of the prep work (and all of the dishes) were worth it. The hardest choice was now which one to eat for dinner first! We chose the red, but would have been just as happy with the green. Both were absolutely delicious, and made for a fun, super delicious (though two days late) Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Barbara and Bunnee - thank you so much for such a delicious, fun and festive challenge. I love Mexican food, and am so excited to have been able to try something so new.
To check out the amazing work of the other daring cooks, take a look here.
2 days ago