Tag: Mexican cooking

Enchiladas, southwest style

Enchiladas, southwest style

Nowadays, you can get all kinds of things named enchiladas, some filled with beef, pork or chicken, or others with downright weird ingredients. We wanted to go back to the enchiladas we had in Arizona which are pretty straightforward, but with the twist that they add a fried egg on top to cut the spiciness.

Of course, spiciness is different for each person, but the idea is the same. You just add some sort of sauce and season it to taste. In our case, we bought soft, premade corn tortillas and two kinds of packaged taco sauce. Neither turned out to be very spicy, so we added some red pepper flakes and some slices of jalapeno.  You can go pretty far into spiciness by picking the right peppers, but since the ones in the supermarket were completely unlabeled, we stuck to jalapenos. However winter jalapenos shipped to Connecticut are pretty mild things.

cheeseHere’s our pretty easy recipe. We used cheddar cheese shredded in our food processor, rather than using a grater or buying the tasteless pre-shredded cheese which has had plenty of time to oxidize on all of its surfaces. You could also use the fairly similar Colby cheese.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
  • Taco sauce
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Jalapeno or hotter peppers
  • 4 Corn tortillas
  • 1/3 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs

sauce

  1. Saute the ground beef in a little olive oil. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Saute the onions in the same oil, and add the garlic near the end of the cooking process to keep it from burning.
  3. Drain excess fat from the pan, and add the ground beef and about 1 cup of taco sauce. The bottled sauces have much more body than the powdered ones (like Old El Paso).
  4. Add the pepper flakes and slices of hot peppers to taste.
  5. Heat the tortillas in a pan or on a griddle.
  6. Spoon meat sauce into each tortilla and top with grated cheese.
  7. Add sliced hot peppers and if you like, sliced black olives.
  8. Roll each taco up and place them seam-side down in a baking dish.
  1. Top with more grated cheese and bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the filling heated.
  2. While they are baking, gentry fry the eggs in butter.
  3. Place two tacos on each plate, and top with a fried egg.
  4. Serve at once.

baked

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Easy chicken mole 

Easy chicken mole 

Chicken mole has a huge number of variations both by chef and by region. It apparently is not strictly Mexican but has Spanish influences as well, and a lot of legends about how mole sauce came about. It amounts to chicken served in a rich, fruity sauce that is mildly hot.

Most mole sauces involve hot peppers and many involve chocolate, not as a sweetener but to make a dark, smooth sauce. Some recipes use unsweetened chocolate and some use semi-sweet. The classic mole frequently uses pasilla chili peppers, which are available dried, but in our local grocers not at all. You can order them online, or you can do as we did, and grow your own. You eventually get dark brown peppers that are somewhat hot, but also have a fruity flavor ideal for this dish. As they turn from green to brown, they get a bit wrinkled: pasilla translates from Spanish as “little raisin.” We ordered ours from Burpee. They have a fairly long growing season, so you want to plant them as early as you can. We planted ours in May, but did not pick them until October.

Pasilla peppers are also somewhat vague in definition, as some writers described them as a small, dark chili negro and others as a dried poblano or ancho pepper. In our recipe, we used saws made specifically for cutting meat, but you can also use fresh dark, green glossy ancho peppers with some added jalapeno peppers to increase the heat. Dried poblano peppers would also work and are probably hotter. We found the fresh poblano peppers all too mild, which is why we added the jalapenos when we didn’t have pasillas available.

This recipe is adapted from the excellent new Weight Watchers cookbook Turn Up the Flavor, and should be relatively low calorie. The recipe recommends that you serve the chicken on brown rice.

  • 3 dried or fresh pasilla peppers or 1 poblano and 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
  • 2-3 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley
  1. If you are using dried peppers, brown them briefly, and then soak in boiling water for 20 minutes and then drain. If you are using fresh peppers, split them and remove most of the seeds. Then cut them into pieces and sauté until soft.
  2. Put the peppers in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the chicken stock and puree. Set aside.
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in the olive oil for 4 minutes on each side. They do not need to be fully cooked yet. Set the chicken aside on a plate.

3. Put the remaining oil in the pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft and add the diced tomatoes. Add the cumin, oregano and cinnamon and cook until fragrant. Put the mixture in the blender with the remaining cup of chicken stock and puree until smooth.

4. Put the two blended sauces back into the pan and cook with stirring until thickened.

5. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. We weighed out 1 oz of semisweet chocolate chips: they are a bit less than 1/4 cup. You can add as much as 1/4 cup of chocolate just as easily.

6. Return the chicken to the pot and cook, covered until the chicken is cooked through, perhaps 10 minutes longer.

Serve over rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley if you are allergic to coriander/cilantro (as many are.)

Decorate each plate with small dots of chutney.