Friday, May 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' May Challenge - Stacked Green Chile Enchilada

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 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!


  1. You did a fabulous job on this challenge. I'm so glad you loved the sauce. Thanks for cooking with us!

  2. Your enchiladas look awesome - sorry to hear about your hands, but glad you found something that worked!

  3. Both versions of your enchiladas sound wonderful! I always burn my hands on chiles too, so good to hear that there are treatments that work. I'm glad you made the tortillas--they are quick and delicious!

  4. Oh what a story about your hands. Hope they are 100 now. Great job on the challenge and making the tortillas. share...what is the name of this Mexican grocery store????? please???

  5. Your enchiladas look wonderful. I really enjoyed the challenge. I've found that a spray product such as Fantastic of 401K will rid my hands of the burn. Of course, my hands then look like dried prunes, but a gal has to do what a gal has to do:-). I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  6. Wow, I say awesome!
    There is simply nothing to beat fresh Salsa Verde! Love that stuff.
    The pepper do look like hot ones, they even look a little like the Anaheim chiles I bought in the store this morning - only mine were a little wider and less bumpy looking.
    Your hands ... wow you really got the full dose of it. When I'm doing one or two jalapenos, I will lightly rub some oil (any kind) on my hands and then immediately wash them when finished - I can still taste hot on them if I put them in my mouth or rub my eyes. Still it protects a little. With as many as you did, gloves are the only way and I know that's tricky.
    LOVE your tortillas and your stakes!

  7. Aoutch, the hands! I must say that, after a few bad experiences, I bought a box of disposable gloves for this sort of work and, reading your post, I'm really happy I did!
    Everything seems to have worked out though, it all looks lovely and yummy!

  8. ahhhh, i hate it when i get chili pepper oils on my hand and forget about it...then proceed to doing something stupid like rubbing my eye. Glad there weren't any complications for you tho! And thanks for the tip with the milk, toothpaste and shaving cream. I'm sure it'll come in handy someday. Your enchilada looks wonderful, you're so lucky you found the canned tomatillos! Great job on the homemade tortillas as well!

  9. Waw!! You made fabulously looking food, dear Valérie!

    Looks so tasty & apart too!

  10. Ack, I did the exact same thing with the hands - I'm too used to grilling and peeling bell peppers, which are obviously way safer in this regard. I found a strong solution of bicarbonate of soda worked wonders =)

    Your enchiladas look amazing - I'm in awe of how you made green stuff, slathered in orange goo look good for the camera! ;)

  11. OMG, Val...I was cracking up at you with toothpaste on your hands. Yes, I know it's supposed to stop the tingly burn, but such a cute, funny image (although I'm so sorry you hurt yourself a little). I rubbed my eyes after handling the peppers!! I know not to, yet I still do it

    That said, your stacked enchiladas and photos look amazing. Love the use of ground beef!

  12. I'm glad you still loved the (amazing!) sauce despite the chile-burn - that always happens to me too!

  13. Your enchiladas sounds wonderfully yummy! Your lucky to find canned tomatillos! I also had a chili burn mishap, I cut myself a little on the kitchen knife, just a scratch, and couldn't understand why it wouldn't stop hurting and burning. Then I realized I had used that knife to cut chilies... Ouch!
    By the way, I love your blog subtitle! "Do chocolate bunnies dream of marzipan carrots?" Such nerdy cuteness!!! :)

  14. Congratulations on your enchiladas, they looks so delicious. Sorry about the chili "burn". The chili peppers you used are the same as mine, we call them "siling haba" here in the philippines.

  15. The enchiladas look delicious.

    I have come to the conclusion that I will just wear latex gloves when handling peppers. It was never a problem before but now seems to be.

    I think your peppers are either bananna or green cayenne peppers.

  16. Soaking your hands in milk... hmm, how I would love to have seen a shot of that...! lol... I know how painful chili burn can be. I wear contactlenses and after cutting a chili once I took them out a couple of hours later (and yes, I did extensively wash my hands before that) and the burning sensation in my eyes was almost too much to bear! Terrible!! Ever since I remove lenses before cleaning chilis and I am extra careful only to touch their outsides mainly and not too much of the juicier insides! Your enchiladas look great and both versions look good. AND you made your own tortillas!

  17. Scrumptious! Your photos captured it so well :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,