Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going Green!

Welcome to 'Play with your food', my first food blog! I chose the name because my favorite thing about cooking is the ability to change things and adapt recipes for personal tastes. Hopefully, I can bring some of what I have learned over my short time cooking to this page and maybe even get a few people into the kitchen. I appreciate everyone who reads and I look foreward to your comments and suggestions, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. Of course the my goal is to get you to try the recipes I post here so let me know what you thought, what you changed, or what you think could be better. Good Eating!

One of my favorite foods in this world are Enchiladas.  I absolutely adore them because they are complex while still being comforting, much like a warm spicy blanket.  With that being said, they are usually relegated to fall and winter eating, as are most oven baked foods... I miss cookies! Thankfully, through the genius that is Rick Bayless, I have discovered a perfectly summery version of this fantastic dish. It combines everything that makes enchiladas great: rolled, filled, corn tortillas smothered in a flavorful sauce and gooey cheese, and completely flips it on its head (at least as far as we Americans understand them). The word 'Enchilada' is an adaptation of 'enchilar' which means to season (or decorate) with chile. So ... enchiladas don't need to be red? NO!  Actually, in this adaptation they are vibrantly green and to me, taste deliciously of summer. The roasted Poblano Chiles bring their grassy, mildly hot flavors and the addition of spinach plays well with the sweetness of the roasted chile. The best part of this dish is the fact that it can be made mostly outside on the grill!  Let's see how: (scroll to bottom for recipe without pictures)

Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style (rickbayless.com)

2 fresh poblano chiles
1 cup (lightly packed) roughly chopped spinach leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter—or you can use vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
Salt
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I usually use a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken)
12-18 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero or the like) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A little chopped cilantro for garnish


The first step is to roast the poblano chiles over high heat until blackened all the way around. If you are doing this on the grill you can put them right on the grate, if you are doing it in the house, I have found the best way to do this is to place an open steamer basket on the burner and roast the chiles on top of that.  It works like a champ! (thanks, Alton Brown)

Here we are at the first step and already we can get creative.  The poblanos are relatively mild and bring more flavor than heat so if you want some more heat, add a jalapeno or ten, or even a serrano (my personal favorite). I tried this recipe with just the poblanos and would have liked a little more heat so next time I make it, I will add 2 serrano chiles, but it is amazing as is too.

After the chiles are blackened all the way around place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will help the skin steam off of the chile and make peeling them a lot easier. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. After they rest, the chiles will be ready to remove the skin, seeds, and stems. This is much easier if you do it under running water. Then, roughly chop and add to a blender jar with the
spinach.
 

In a medium saucepan, combine the broth and milk, over medium-low heat to warm.

The sauce is a basic Bechamel sauce.  Simply melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant, then add the flour, cooking for a few minutes to cook the rawness out of the flour. Once the flour is ready,
(about 1 minute), add the hot broth and milk and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Now we can finish the sauce.  Pour half of the sauce mixture into a blender with the chiles and spinach (make sure you remove the center piece of your blender lid, and cover loosely with a towel, or you'll redecorate your kitchen a nice shade of green). Blend until smooth. Then, add back to the rest of the sauce and mix in. Season with salt to taste (I needed 2tsp).  Add about 1 cup of the sauce to the shredded chicken.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or set up a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling.  

Brush or spray the tortillas with oil and bake for 3-5 minutes to warm.

Spread the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish or use a foil pan if you are going to cook them on the grill. Start rolling the chicken mixture in the tortillas and set them in the baking dish, working quickly so the tortillas stay warm.  Top the enchiladas with sauce to cover (you may have sauce left over, I did), then top generously with cheese.  Bake or Grill (using indirect grilling)  about 20 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Garnish with chopped cilantro and devour with a bit of crema.
 


Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style (www.rickbayless.com)

2 fresh poblano chiles
1 cup (lightly packed) roughly chopped spinach leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter—or you can use vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
Salt
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (I usually use a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled chicken)
12-18 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero or the like) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A little chopped cilantro for garnish


DIRECTIONS


1.    Make the sauce.  Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 5 minutes for an open flame, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and, when handleable, rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem. Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put in a blender jar.  Add the spinach.
In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.
In a large (4-quart) saucepan, melt the butter (or heat the oil) over medium.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add the flour and stir the mixture for a minute.  Raise the heat to medium-high.  Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach.  Cover loosely (I remove the center part of the lid, secure the lid, then drape a cloth over the whole thing) and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons.  
2.    Finish the enchiladas.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Smear about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of each of four to six 9-inch individual ovenproof baking/serving dishes or smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish.  Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
Lay half of the tortillas out on a baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil; top each tortilla with another one and brush or spray those with oil.  Bake just to warm through and soften, about 3 minutes.  Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.  
Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll a portion of the chicken up in each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish(es).  Douse evenly with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 20 minutes.  Garnish with the cilantro and serve without hesitation.