Posts Tagged New Mexican
As promised, an easy weeknight dinner for leftover chicken. Although I recommend using poached pulled chicken, any leftover chicken can be pulled or chopped and used in this. If you’re not a fan of mixing chicken and cheese (or are a vegetarian), the refried beans I make as a side dish are a great topping instead. Just substitute some beans wherever I use chicken.
I don’t make rolled enchiladas like most people. I make them flat and crunchy, almost like a sandwich, because the first place I had enchiladas was Maria’s in Santa Fe (wow, their website is terrible), and I don’t like change. I like the crunch that these have, and not needing to use a pound of Velveeta cheese substitute to drown all the other flavors in them. And those flavors are simple: sharp cheese (I used cheddar, but a pepper jack would be lovely), sweet corn tortillas, tender flavorful chicken, sweet and burning chile, cool soothing sour cream. That’s it. You could top them with lettuce and/or tomato for a bit of extra crunch and the benefits of vegetables, but I don’t think it really needs it.
Ingredients (makes 4 enchiladas, serves about 2. Which is weird, because in the restaurant I can only eat one. Oh well.)
1/2 pound pulled or chopped cooked chicken
4 ounces shredded cheese
8 corn tortillas
1-2 T vegetable oil, for frying tortillas
Sour cream to serve
New Mexican red chile (or chile or salsa of your choice) to serve
Heat the oil in a small skillet over high heat and fry the tortillas, one at a time, until crispy.
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange half the crispy tortillas on a cookie sheet. Top each tortilla with a handful of pulled chicken and a big pinch of shredded cheese.
Top that with another tortilla and a bit more cheese, and pop the whole lot in the oven for five to seven minutes to get the cheese molten and delicious. I like to serve these with tortilla chips (yes, chips on the side of my tortilla-based meal. What?) topped with refried black beans, which are insanely easy to make.
1 can of plain black or pinto beans, drained
2 T butter
1 oz grated cheese, plus more to garnish
Drain the beans, then mash them. There is an easy way and a hard way to do this. The easy way is to pulse them in the food processor for about 20 seconds. The hard way is to smash them in the cooking pot with the back of a spoon. Since I actually like having some whole or only partly mashed beans in mine, and I didn’t want to wash all five parts of the food processor, I went with the spoon.
Add the beans and butter to a small saucepan and heat over high to melt the butter. Reduce the heat to low and stir the butter in.
Add the shredded cheese and mix that in as it melts. Scoop the mixture onto a pile of tortilla chips and serve alongside enchiladas or any other New Mexican dish.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of chile. It’s simple. It’s fast. It’s appreciated by Mr. B, and crunchy and delicious for me!
What I have to say here is probably very dangerous. In Texas some folks have probably been lynched for less. But I’m going to say it anyway. Texans don’t know the first thing about chile. I live in Texas. My husband’s entire family lives here too. But if you want real chile, you need to drive a whole day to New Mexico, where the sauce doesn’t mess around. My father-in-law, all unknowing, managed to do just that. He rolled into a little shop called Horseman’s at the edge of Santa Fe and asked for a bowl of chile. Now, a Texan who says this wants chile con carne, a comparatively mild stew of chili peppers, tomatoes, meat, onions, and sometimes beans. So you can imagine his confusion when he was asked the state question of New Mexico, “Red, green, or Christmas?” Well, he said green. At Horseman’s, if you aren’t a chile veteran, if you haven’t spent years preparing your palate to eat the firebird with a side of hot pokers, that’s the wrong answer. He claims it damn near burned his tongue off.
New Mexican chile is a vibrant sauce. It can almost define the entire cuisine of the state, setting it apart from Tex-Mex and Mexican-American with an unusual smoothness and purity of flavor. We have a lot of various chile-based products in this apartment (I do mean a lot), but when we make New Mexican tacos or enchiladas, a batch of the real stuff must go with it. Or my husband will pout for hours.
New Mexican Red Chile
2 ½ cups water
12-14 dried New Mexican chiles such as Hatch chile (Ancho chiles will work if you can’t find NM chiles)
1 T olive oil
1 t garlic powder (or a clove of garlic, lightly roasted)
½ t mustard powder (Why, yes, I do use this in everything. Because it is just that good)
A pinch of salt (I used black volcanic salt, because it’s delightfully smoky. Table salt is great though)
Finely chopped cilantro or oregano to taste
Cut the stems off of the chiles and shake out the seeds. You won’t get all of them. That’s okay; you’ll get them out later. Bring the water to a boil and toss your chiles in. reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes. They will smell a bit sweet. Do not be alarmed.
Put the partially-rehydrated chiles and the water you cooked them in into your food processor or blender. (If you’re using fresh garlic, add it now. I used powdered.) Once the mixture is about as smooth as it’s going to get (not very), pour it into a strainer and strain it into a pot. The result should be a very smooth, very dark red. My strainer has the finest mesh in the universe. After eight minutes (yes, I watched the clock) of scraping around with a spoon, this is what the end result looked like.
I told you you’d get the seeds out later.
Heat the chile puree over medium heat and add your garlic and mustard powders, salt, and herbs. It snowed here last week (In Dallas. I ask you, what is the world coming to?) so all of my non-rosemary herbs are either dead or horribly wilted and brittle. So we skipped the herbs tonight. Stir in the olive oil. This is the fun part: once the olive oil is properly mixed in it creates a fascinating sheen to the surface of the sauce. It almost looks like gold dust.
Serve over tacos or enchiladas or any new Mexican dish.
Oh, to make tacos? Don’t buy crunchy taco shells. Make your own! Briefly cook a soft corn tortilla in a skillet with a bit of corn or canola oil.
Fill with sour cream, refried beans, shredded cheese, lettuce( if you’re healthier, better people than we are), and spoon some chile on top. Or just dip your tacos in the bowl. Pulled chicken is good if you’re not in the mood for beans (we’ll talk about that when I make enchiladas), and my husband loves his with beef, as you can see above.