Monday, April 13, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Enchiladas Verde

This isn’t my dish – Judy got it from some guy named Ed Ward. But it’s her dish and I just started making it and ‘took’ it from her. It’s a slight issue between us. She’s probably fuming at the fact I’m calling it a Lou’s Most Excellent dish because I would have never gotten it if it wasn’t for her.

Judy? You there?

The recipe is on an old piece of oil stained yellow paper with near chicken scratch for writing. As the oil stained recipe condition indicates, this dish is an absolute mess. It’s also helpful to have someone help you when it comes to rolling the tortillas as it’s a) a lot of rolling and b) you can easily set up an assembly line (one person dips, the other rolls) to make it go by much faster.

If you’re tired of lasagna and looking for a casseroley thing to do try this. Note: this is a very spicy dish. If you find that the Anaheim’s and Poblano’s give enough heat, skip the jalapenos.

If you’re fortunate enough to have access to Hatch chili’s, definitely use those instead of the called for Anaheim’s. The Hatch peppers give the sauce a great, smooth-heat profile. Hatch’s are seasonal and pretty hard to find outside of the southwest US. We often pick up a case in TX and check them in as luggage on our trips to and from there.

In a departure from the original recipe, I add a half-pound of Poblano’s to give it some extra punch. I also add the garlic toward the end of the onion sweat; this helps preserve the garlic flavor rather than sapping it all out. I do this for all my dishes.

I’ve recently come across expeller pressed corn oil from Spectrum Naturals. The oil is really orange and not yellow like that near chemical-grade stuff. And guess what? It tastes like corn - really. If you can find this use it.

The flavor of garlic results from an aromatic compound called allicin, which is released from garlic when stressed (chopping, cooking, etc.) from the combination of alliin and an enzyme called alliinase. Generally, the more you cook an aromatic compound, the more you lose it: if you’re smelling your aromatics you’re actually putting your flavor into the air rather than keeping it in the dish.

This will likely yield more sauce than you need. Try remaining sauce in an omelet. Or over grilled chicken, on a grilled chicken sandwich, or even a burger. There's a lot you can do with this stuff so don't throw it out. This sauce also freezes well. If you're going through the effort you might as well double it and freeze the remainder. I do.

1 pound of Anaheim peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped into dime sized pieces
½ pound of Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped into dime sized pieces
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped and diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
20 oz of chicken broth
2 TBS flour
1 package (30 – 36) of corn tortillas
18 oz freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese
Corn oil (a lot)

Preheat oven to 350 for one hour.

In a large skillet add about 5 TBS of corn oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the onions plus two big pinches of salt and sweat for about 8 – 10 minutes, do not brown or come close to browning the onions. When the onions are nearly translucent add the garlic then 30 seconds later add the flour. Gently stir until slightly pasty, then slowly pour in 1 cup of chicken broth and stir until the flour is dissolved.

Add the peppers, stir and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, uncovered. If the mixture is very thick add some more broth; it should have the consistency of a light tomato sauce.

In a small 6” skillet, heat one TBS of oil over medium heat. Once hot, dip a tortilla into it and push down with tongs until it starts to blister, about 5 seconds. Flip the tortilla and cook for 5 seconds more. Transfer the tortilla directly onto the sauce and gently flip to cover.

Place the tortilla in a 13 x 9 baking dish and add a good finger full of cheese, about ¼ cup. Roll the tortilla and move to one end of the dish. Repeat this process until the dish is full (about 20 – 25 tortillas). Add more corn oil as needed too (about every 4 tortillas).

[You can stop here and continue a few hours later if need be. Store the enchiladas in a fridge until ready.]

Cover the tortillas with remaining sauce and sprinkle any left over cheese on top. Place in the oven and cook uncovered for 15 minutes (if going from a cold plate cook for 30 minutes, covered for the first 15 minutes).

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