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 www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.
I love Mexican and Tex-Mex food. One of our favourite meals around here is chicken fajitas, with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. So I was thrilled to find that this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was something I had meant to try making for a while: enchiladas.
Traditionally, enchiladas are tortillas that are stuffed and rolled, like burritos, then covered with a chili sauce. Our challenge, however, was a slight variation on this: rather than roll our tortillas, we were to stack them, interspersed with layers of filling, sauce, and cheese, lasagna-style. The requirement was to make our own chili sauce, and we had the option of making our own tortillas.
The main ingredients in the sauce were Anaheim chiles and tomatillos – neither of which I was sure I would be able to find. Fortunately, while browsing in the ethnic section of my neighbourhood, I stumbled upon a Mexican store that carried all sorts of things, including canned tomatillos (I was told fresh ones weren’t in season, and that I had little chance of finding any). They also had stuff I’d been looking for for a long time, such as canned chipotle in adobo. I literally jumped for joy when I found that, because I’ve come across so many recipes that require it; I know how to make it from dehydrated chipotle peppers, but it’s a drag.
The Anaheim chiles, however, were a different matter. I have a relatively diversified produce store nearby, but, while they are very good at labelling their many varieties of salads, they are fairly clueless about chili peppers. The only one which is clearly identified is the japaleno, and I knew it would be too hot for this sauce. All the other kinds of chiles are usually labelled “Hot Chili Pepper,” and their presence on the shelves is far from reliable. On the day I went looking, the store only had these long, green chiles, and I have absolutely no idea what they are called. If anyone knows, I’d be grateful if you could enlighten me.
Anyways, I had too many tomatillos, so I made double the amount of sauce. The first step was roasting, then cleaning the chiles. I’ve done this with sweet bell peppers, and I’ve handled enough jalapenos to know to wash my hands carefully afterward, and not to touch my face during the process. However, I had never roasted hot peppers before, and hadn’t accounted for the fact that I would be handling them for so long: after all, I had almost two dozen roasted chiles to skin, seed, and chop. That went fine, but it wasn’t until after the sauce was done that I realized my hands felt funny…
They weren’t burning, exactly. They felt more like how your skin feels when you dip it in hot water, and then immediately in ice-cold water. It didn’t hurt, but it was unsettling. I washed my hands several times, but the sensation persisted. So I turned to the trusty Internet, and found that soaking in cold milk could help. I tried that, and it helped for a while, but then the sensation returned. Laurent came home around then (I’m grateful he didn’t find me marinating my hands in milk: I would never have heard the end of it), and suggested I try toothpaste. So I walked around with toothpaste on my hands for a while, but again, it failed to solve the problem permanently. Finally, we tried shaving cream. That one worked, but I couldn’t tell you if it was the shaving cream itself, or the cumulative effect of all the other remedies I’d tried, or if the capsaicin had simply worn off.
Anyways, after that ordeal, I continued the challenge the following day. The recipe suggested using grilled chicken, but I don’t have a barbecue, so I decided to braise some chicken thighs instead – and get some chicken stock out of it, while I was at it. I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter, but made individual portions, rather than one large casserole. I served it with a salad of corn, avocado, black beans, and cilantro. And it was good. Seriously yummy, with so many flavours I enjoy. I had really been afraid the sauce would be too spicy, but it was just perfect!
My only regret was that I hadn’t made my own tortillas. I had bought the masa harina and everything, but when the time came, I was just too tired and hungry to go to the trouble. However, a few days before the deadline, I found myself with some free time, and an overwhelming desire to use up the other leftover chili sauce I had frozen, so I decided to do the challenge again. This time, I made the tortillas and, while I would have liked them to be thinner, they were still good for their intended purpose, and actually really fun to make.
For my second attempt, I used a mixture of sautéed ground beef, scallions, and red bell pepper for my filling, with just a hint of cumin. And I made a large dish, this time. Again, it was really good: comforting, flavourful, and filling. And I am still in love with that sauce.
Barbara and Bunnee, I want to seriously thank you for this delicious and informative challenge! Thank you for organizing this!
Now, if you want to make yummy enchiladas of your own, head on over to The Daring Kitchen and check out the challenge recipe. Don’t forget to check out all the amazingly creative meals the other Daring Cooks have come up with!