Monday, May 2, 2011

The whole enchilada!

Enchilada sauce....It's something that almost everyone is guilty of just opening a can or mixing up a packet of spices to use in their "homemade" enchiladas.

Yeah, me too. I always took the short cut. It just always seemed like an "ingredient" you buy at the store to me. After all, the enchiladas are homemade. The sauce doesn't need to be, right?

Then I tried my hand at homemade sauce. I'm not even sure where the inspiration came from. Probably an episode of a cooking a show. Perhaps a recipe I came across on a blog or in a cookbook. Who knows. But I decided it had to be better with fresh ingredients and not dehydrated, powdered, and reconstituted spices and a little preservatives mixed in. Yeah it tastes good.......but, ICK!

I mentioned on FB that I was making my own homemade enchilada sauce, and the requests started pouring in. I apologize that it took this long, but my life went crazy right after that. I was in charge of the school's jog-a-thon, my son was turning 6, Spring cleaning time arrived, and the usual end-of-the-school-year madness started. Not trying to make excuses (yeah, ok, I am), just stating why time for writing is hard to come by.

And as I mentioned in my last blog post, I decided that a series of posts using my homemade stock would be a great idea. That way you've got all the recipes close together. Make the stock, then use the stock & the chicken for some really yummy meals. I also thought that would make it easier to whip out a blog post every day, or at least every other day. Easier said than done.

So in this post, you technically get 2 recipes. Or 20 depending on how you look at it (remember, I'm all for you taking my ideas and substituting ingredients til you come up with your own perfect recipe!). The enchilada sauce recipe can be used for any enchiladas you like. And I'll give you my "sneaky mommy" version of enchiladas you can be proud to serve -- chalked full of veggies and super healthy!

Ancho-Chile Enchilada Sauce

-4 dried ancho chiles (I usually use one entire 1 oz package)
-1/2 cup water
-1 small red onion, chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
-2 tsp canola or vegetable oil
-2 cups chicken stock (I use my homemade stock)
-1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp coriander
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar

Reconstitute the ancho chiles in 1/2 cup of water for approximately one hour. Carmelize onion and garlic in oil. Add the reconstituted chiles (reserve water), sugar and spices and saute about 10 minutes longer. Add the water from the chiles and tomatoes to the pan. Allow to cool (or be very careful, adding only small amounts at a time to the blender!) Transfer to blender and blend til smooth. Pour back into pan and add chicken stock. Cook on low until heated through.

Now mind you, don't go looking for authentic enchiladas here. Yes, I know how to make them. And yes, I make them a lot. But, I'm super proud of there cause they deliver authentic taste while giving the kids (and the adults) plenty of veggies. So often with Mexican food (at least in the restaurants) you walk away hardly haven't had any veggies (unless you consider a small glob of guacamole and a little lettuce a serving of veggies!). But these deliver!

Over all, these pack a medium heat punch. I love spicy, but this about as hot as the kids can handle for their actual meal. And as a mom, I have to put their tummies over my taste buds. But with my enchilada sauce, these definitely have that authentic flavor I grew up with in California.

This recipe calls for "mild" chiles. And like I've always said......consider my recipes a method and not bible. You can substitute jalapeƱos or habaneros for all I care. If you want to go the easy route (and don't mind a few preservatives and occasionally tinned can flavor), feel free to use canned chiles. It's your meal! :) I'll never have my feelings hurt if you change things up, or in this case, omit all the extra veggies so you have something much more authentic. It's all good. And if you make a change and create something fantastic - let me know. I may like your version better.

Chicken (and lots of veggies for the kids!) Enchiladas

-Tortillas (I typically make 8 big enchiladas, but you could always make 10-12 smaller ones)
-1 cooked chicken, shredded (from your homemade stock, baked with Mexican spices, or store bought rotisserie - it's all good!)
-1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
-2 red bell peppers
-1/2 cup mild chili peppers (or a can of fire-roasted mild chiles or up the heat if you like!)
-1 small red onion, diced
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 tsp oil
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-1 tsp coriander
-1 tsp salt
-4-5 grinds fresh cracked black pepper
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
-1 batch of ancho-chili sauce (from above)
-1 1/2 lb (or more!) of shredded cheese (of your choice - I prefer 1/2 sharp cheddar and 1/2 pepper jack)

Blister/roast the bell peppers & chiles on the grill. Remove skin and finely chop. Saute' peppers, chiles, onion & garlic in oil for about 10 minutes. Add spinach & spices and cook for another 10 minutes. Add chicken and stir together well.

Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Put about 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish. Smooth it around to form a thin layer of sauce over the entire dish. Dip 1 tortilla in enchilada sauce (here's where you get nice & messy!). Place about about 1/2 cup of filling and spread it lengthwise in your hand thru the tortilla. Cover with a handful of the shredded cheese. Roll the tortilla over the filling, place in dish seam side down. Repeat until your dish is completely full of enchiladas. Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas (using a spoon to help get it to go down in between them). Cover the entire dish with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, til the cheese is completely melted and the enchiladas are completely warmed through.

Serve with salsa, fresh cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, additional sauce, sliced green onions, or anything else your heart desires.

NOTE: I will edit this later with some pictures. I just wanted to type it all out while the measurements & ingredients were fresh in my head and make sure it got posted on Cinco de Mayo :)