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. You can find the challenge here. Thanks a lot, Barbara and Bunnee, for a fantastic challenge!
I was absolutely thrilled when I learned what the challenge was going to be this month. Mexican food! I LOVE Mexican food. I was in culinary heaven during my vacation in Mexico 10 years ago. When we were back in Germany we tried to find Mexican restaurants that would serve the same food as we had in Mexico, but as usually is the case something was always wrong. I think Mexicans wouldn’t even label German Mexican food Mexican. Same goes for Chinese. I don’t think that Chinese people from China would recognize Chinese food that is served in Germany. Same goes for Italian, Indian, Thai food etc. Is it the lack of certain ingredients? Or is it that restaurant owners that usually ARE Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Italian or Thai have to adapt the traditional food to German tastebuds because otherwise only a few people would eat it? I have no idea… I just know that Italian restaurants in the U.S. are totally different from the ones in Germany, same goes for Indian and Mexican restaurants. And something else I know for sure is that German labeled restaurants in the U.S. do NOT serve German food (maybe Bavarian, but not German – I’m a Prussian, and Prussians hate Bavarians and vice versa, so if you want to be my friend, please don’t label Bavarian stuff German ;-)).
Back to the challenge: I read through the ingredient list and knew I wasn’t able to truly participate. Fresh Anaheim Chiles? Tomatillos? Monterey Jack or Mexican Cheeses? Masa Harina for the corn tortillas? Jeez! Where would I get all these things? No chance finding fresh chiles except for peperoncini. No chance finding Mexican cheese. BUT I found an online source for tomatillos (canned, though) and masa harina.
I didn’t see a chance to follow the given recipe so I searched the internet and my cookbooks and got inspired by one of Mark Bittman’s recipes: Green Enchilada Sauce with Tomatillos. The recipe calls for 2 poblano or other mild fresh green chiles and 2 serrano or other hot fresh green chiles, but I figured green peperoncini are milder than red ones, so I got 2 green peperoncini and 2 red peperoncini, roasted them under the broiler in my oven, peeled and cored them and made the enchilada sauce. I really had to force myself to stop trying it – the salsa was sooooo good.
Also that day, I made corn tortillas and more or less used the recipe given in the challenge (for details, see the bottom of this post). I wish I had bought a tortilla press (which also was available at that online store I got the tomatillos and masa harina from) because shaping them was really annoying. They wouldn’t turn out round at all, but I thought I’d roll them up anyway, so nobody would care.
The next day, I fried some diced chicken breast which I had marinated in lime juice, onions, chile flakes, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper before. Then I filled a casserole dish with half of the enchilada sauce, filled the corn tortillas with the chicken and some mozarella cheese, rolled them up, put them on top of the sauce, and topped the tortillas with the rest of the enchilada sauce and some more mozarella cheese. Into the oven it went for about 25 minutes. I could hardly wait to take it out and try it. WHAT AN AWESOME DISH!
I knew it would be too spicy for my kids so I had filled an additional casserole dish with store bought mild taco sauce (I didn’t feel like making another sauce), and this was a big hit with my kids.
I’ll definitely save the recipes for future reference because this is a dish I’ll make often from now on. I have no idea if it tastes authentically Mexican, but there was something in the enchilada sauce which I couldn’t identify that reminded me of the food we had in Mexico – and it can be the fresh cilantro or the tomatillos only, because I’ve never had those here before.
Green Enchilada Salsa
(adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)
makes about 2 cups
- 28 oz canned tomatillos, finely chopped
- 2 mild green chile peppers
- 2 hot red chile peppers
- 3 tblsp neutral oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 cup vegetable stock (I had some in the freezer, made after another Bittman recipe)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- Turn on the broiler and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Put the chile peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil and broil, turning the peppers as each side browns, until they have darkened and collapsed, 10 – 15 minutes. Wrap the peppers in the foil that lined the pan and cool until you can handle them, then remove the skin, seeds and stems. Chop the chile peppers.
- Put the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatillos, chiles, oregano, stock, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; stir and bring to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, 10 – 15 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the finished sauce in the pan.
(adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen)
- 1 3/4 cups masa harina
- 1 cup plus 2 tblsp hot water
- Pour hot water over masa harina, cover and let sit 30 minutes. Add (additional) cool water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft but not sticky. Divide the dough into 15 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
- Heat a skillet on medium-high.
- Put a ball of dough between two sheets of plastic. If you don’t have a tortilla press, roll out to a 5-6” circle using a rolling pin. Put the tortilla into the pan, flip it after about 1 minute and cook for another 1 minute. Remove from heat and let them rest while cooking the remaining tortillas.
Cilantro & Lime Chicken
(adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)
- 1 lb chicken breast, diced
- 3 tblsp oil
- 2 tblsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tblsp lime juice
- 1 tblsp chopped onion
- 1/4 tsp chile flakes
- salt and pepper
- Combine everything in a casserole dish and marinate for 30 minutes
- Pour mixture into a skillet and fry until chicken is cooked.
- 2 recipes Green Enchilada Salsa
- 1 recipe Corn Tortillas
- 1 recipe Cilantro & Lime Chicken
- 8 oz Mozarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Pour half of the enchilada salsa into a big casserole dish.
- Fill the tortillas with chicken pieces and mozarella, roll tightly, and put them in the prepared dish, seam side down. The rolls should be packed in snugly against one another.
- Cover the top with the remaining sauce and cheese and bake for 25 minutes.