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 http://www.finecooking.com/ and written by Robb Walsh.
I was SO excited to see that this month’s Daring Cook’s Challenge was going to be Mexican themed! I love Mexican food. If we are splurging on food from outside of the house, my most frequent request is Mexican. Now, I do understand that most of my experiences with Mexican food has been “tainted” by the fact that I live in the Northeastern United States. Not so close to Mexico, so I know that what I know as Mexican food is most likely VERY Americanized. That being said, I was still psyched about this.
While Cinco de Mayo is not usually something I celebrate, or even realize is happening until after the fact, I decided to make these enchilada stacks for a Cinco de Mayo dinner. Why not, right? Well, for the weeks leading up to when it would be time to make them I kept seeing tomatillos and Anaheim (or long green hots or something like that...) at my favorite produce store. So I was not worried about getting them fresh when I was ready to cook. Silly me... I went in to buy my ingredients, but was not exactly successful... There were a couple of tomatillos left, but they were clearly the one that other people had passed on taking – small, under ripe... Ok, strike out on those. Off to find the peppers. Green bells, red bells, jalapeños, poblanos... no Anaheim. Really? Neither of the vegetables I wanted? I was amazed... This produce store has NEVER disappointed me before! Well, there are either a ton of Daring Cooks in my area or the couple of days before Cinco de Mayo might not be the best time to go looking for Mexican type ingredients... So off I went to a different produce store. There I was able to find the Anaheim peppers, which I was happy about, but they, too, were out of tomatillo. I asked when they thought they would be getting more in. “Maybe Friday,” was the answer. So no help. So unfortunately I had to use canned tomatillos for my salsa verde.
I actually made the salsa on the day before Cinco de Mayo (Quatro de Mayo, I guess!) so that the flavors could meld and marry overnight. The first step towards making the sauce was to roast the peppers. I have roasted bell peppers before, so I wasn’t too worried about this step. I was pretty sure I could do it without setting the kitchen on fire! I just had to do it while Little Girl was napping, since it involved being very close to a very hot oven. I decided to also roast the onion and garlic while I was at it. (I was going to roast the tomatillos, too, but I didn’t think that the pre-cooked canned ones would to too well with it...) My biggest problem with roasting peppers is the patience required in order to complete the task. Once the peppers were nice and charred I put them into a paper bag to cool/steam the skins off. Then I had to wait. Waiting is the part I am really bad at... I managed to wait long enough for the skins to steam, but not quite long enough for the peppers to be cool enough to handle. Oops... Oh well.
Once the tomatillos were blended and peppers, onion and garlic were roasted and minced, the sauce came together pretty quickly. The pot did most of the hard work, I just had to stir a little bit. It didn’t thicken up quite the way I had thought it would, but that could be because I had Little Girl climbing on me wanting to be held, so I had to finish cooking and get things put away a bit sooner than I had hoped. It turned out not to be a big deal at all. The sauce set up well in the fridge, and turned a great consistency when recooked in the stacks.
The next step of the process for me was to decide what my enchilada stacks would be filled with. Grilled chicken, clearly, was not going to happen in our Kosher/vegetarian home. Black beans, on the other hand, and a constant favorite with us – Little Girl as well as myself and Hubby! At first I thought I would just do a black bean and cheese filling. Always good, right? Then I remembered the yummy enchiladas that my mother-in-law makes using zucchini. So I made a filling of sautéed onion, garlic and zucchini with a combination of black and pinto beans.
Finally I had to think about the tortillas. I considered using store bought, but figured I should try to make them. Then I had to decide on flour or corn. That decision almost got made for me when I had the hardest time finding masa harina. But, as you saw on Cinco de Mayo, I was successfully able to get my corn flour, and successfully able to make my corn tortillas.
Now that all of my elements were ready, it was time to stack. The layers came together easily, even with the step of “re-frying” the tortillas. I probably used more cheese than I needed to, but that is pretty much because I don’t think there is such a thing as “too much cheese,” especially in Mexican food! Even before they went into the oven these enchilada stacks looked and smelled amazing. The beans, the zip from the peppers, the mounds of cheese... I was really looking forward to this dinner! While the stacks cooked got my side dishes ready. Man will you be floored by how fancy I got here... one dish of extra salsa verde, one dish of (store bought) tortilla chips, and one dish of diced avocado, seasoned with a little bit of garlic pepper seasoning... I know, I really worked too hard on those...
Once the enchiladas came out of the oven I was even more excited to eat. I could barely wait the ten minutes recommended to let them cool and rest. Let me assure you, though, the wait was well worth it. These enchilada stacks were AMAZING. The sauce had a little more of a kick than I expected, or really than I usually like, but it was so good. The avocado really helped to balance out the heat. The filling was the perfect combination of filling, satisfying and not too heavy. The cheese was gooey and melty, and a little crisped on top. I even would have added a little more cheese... All it all, this was a great meal and a great challenge. So good, in fact, that I used the leftover ingredients to make them again two days later when my mother was in town! While she isn’t one to go out of her way for Mexican food, and usually doesn’t eat too big of a meal for lunch, she ate her entire stack quite happily!! This is most definitely a recipe I will be making again! (and again, and again!)
Of course, I didn’t leave Little Girl out of the festivities. Clearly I couldn’t give here the salsa, and I am still not giving her dairy, but she enjoyed a tortilla, beans and her favorite food – avocado! It looks like we are raising another Mexican food fan!
Thank you so much to Barbara and Bunnee for a fabulous challenge! This was fun to make, it was fun to eat, and will be something that we enjoy in our family for a long time!
For the original challenge recipe please look here, and to see the amazing creativity of my fellow daring cooks take a look here!