Monday, November 12, 2007

New Mexico Heart Attack

A week ago my friend Geggie wrote about making Stacked Enchiladas. Immediately I could taste New Mexico enchilada’s in my mouth. If there’s one food I love above all others … well, no I don’t know if I can claim that. But I do have an affinity for Mexican Food. As a kid, I was pretty boring. I wanted a taco and an enchilada. The taco should be a crispy corn tortilla (NOT LIKE TACO BELL), ground meat, and when I got a little older cheese. No lettuce, no tomato (shudder) … just meat and tortilla. Which I’m sure is one of the reasons I liked enchiladas.

Somewhere along the line I remember my dad waxing rhapsodically about Chili Rellenos. I tried one and was hooked. Then I moved to Arizona. It was like coming home to the mother ship (whatever that means). I fell in love with Machaca con Huevos, Choriso Con Huevos, Carnitas, and Cocteles del Mar. From work I became friends with a family that invited me to their Christmas celebrations. These festivities included Posole and Christmas tamales. (Mmmm). I also encounter New Mexico Enchiladas for the first time.

I learned to make “Normal” enchiladas in 4th grade when I went to my Grandama Mit’s for a summer vacation. We heated the red sauce, grated the cheese, browned the meat and onion. Next came assembly. Dip the corn tortilla into the warm red sauce until it became limp. Remove to a plate and put a thin ribbon of the meat, onion, and Colby cheese down the center of the tortilla, then roll into a cylinder. The cylinder was placed seam-side down in a casserole dish which was lined with a puddle of red sauce. After the dish was lined with the cylinders, you poured more red sauce on them, sprinkled more cheese on top and dotted them with the required 3 olive slices, and then baked. THOSE ARE ENCHILADAS PEOPLE!

You can imagine (or at least you should imagine) my distress when I was presented with STACKED enchiladas.

Heresy I tell you!

Flat Enchiladas?

Stacked, no less???

But the sacrilege did not stop there. Do you know what they had the AUDACITY to do? They topped these FLAT ENCHILADAS with a FRIED EGG!! This discovery was equal to the proposition put forth by Columbus that the world was not flat.

I was aghast.

I was appalled.

I was in disbelief.

Then I took a bite. Quickly my left hand wrapped itself around my plate as a protective measure. It’s possible I looked at my dining companions and growled, with fork poised for striking should someone venture too close.

Tonight I made New Mexico Stacked Enchiladas. If you are a vegetarian, I think this recipe could still work for you. Replace the hamburger with firm tofu. Omit or include egg as your ethics direct.

Stacked Enchiladas via New Mexico (carnivore version)**

Pour red sauce into sauce pan (circumference of pan should accommodate corn tortilla). Warm over low temp.

Boil ½ cup water in small sauce pan. Add dried Ancho Chile Pepper to water, turn off heat and let chile steep.

In 12” sauté pan add diced onion, garlic, and lean ground beef. (nothing more than a 80/20 mix). Crumble and brown.

Season with oregano, cumin, majorum, and salt***. Drain fat from meat.

When chile is reconstituted (about 20 minutes), remove from water, drain (reserving all water), de-stem, and dice chili. Add diced chile to meat mixture. (be sure to taste and don’t over season)

Add ¼ cup to ½ cup of red sauce to meat mixture.

Dip tortilla into remaining red sauce until pliable. (Maybe 20-30 seconds). Place tortilla on heat proof plate. Add thin layer of meat mixture, shredded cheese and sliced olives. Top with another red sauce drenched tortilla. Repeat until you have 3 tortillas and 2 layers of meat/cheese mixture.

While assembling flat enchilada, add ½ cup of retained chile water to small sauté pan. Bring to boil.

Top final layer with cheese to tortilla/meat stack. Place under broiler and broil until cheese is “wonderful”. Remove plate from broiler.

Slip raw egg into boiling chile water mixture and poach/fry until desired doneness. (I splash water up on the yolk – and just solidify the outer edges.) Season with salt and pepper. Scoop/spoon (whatever) egg out of liquid and onto top of flat enchilada (you might want to drizzle with more red sauce). Garnishing with more olives, sliced green onions, and sour cream is optional. (I refrained tonight)

Cut bite, place in mouth. Enter nirvana de Nuevo Mexico.

** for Tofu version:

Add small amount of oil to 12 inch pan. Bring to high heat, almost smoking. Add diced tofu and stir until nuggets of deliciousness. Add onion and seasoning, sauté until onion is translucent. Drain oil, add red sauce. Continue recipe as described above.

*** I apologize for not having measurements. Tonight I made enough of just 3 enchiladas. (one for dinner, one for lunch, one for dinner tomorrow night). I used:

1 can Red Enchilada Sauce

1 small onion (maybe ¾ c to 1 c) small dice

½ - ¾ lbs hamburger

½ teaspoon garlic

½ teaspoon of each spice (or maybe more/less) TASTE AS YOU GO!

3 corn tortillas per enchilada

¾ cup shredded Colby Cheese (total)

9 olives sliced

1 egg (I won’t cook the other eggs until I reassemble for the next meal)


Anonymous said...

Sounds great except for the egg! Ug! The only way I like eggs is eliminated!! The rest of the recipe sounds so good!! I had enchiladas for supper last night, then again for lunch. The boys request them when they're home!

Geggie said...

I really think we should get together when I'm in Durham and have drinks and Mexican food, if there's any good to be had.

I love the stacked enchilada!!! I don't like the egg, but I will make them that way for others.

I don't think I realized that you lived in AZ? Where? I just moved to VA after 10 years in Phoenix.

MitMoi said...

That is one of the reasons I felt an immediate kinship to you .. the desert connection!

I lived in Scottsdale when I first moved there in '84. '86-89 I was in Tempe. '89-99 I lived in Phx. for the remaining time. Most of it in the Encanto neighborhood.

Yes, let's get together when you come to Durham. I have yet to find a good Mexican place in Durham. There's one out in Carrboro - and another in N. Raleigh - but we'll find something!

Geggie said...

OMG! I lived in Central Phx...not far from 16th St. and Glendale.

Too funny!

I'm in DC in a super cute B&B right good Mexican. Can't wait for my Christmas trip to Phx for Mexican.

Christopher Paquette said...

meh.... Mexican Food. Living in the Northeast I probably haven't had enough of the real thing for it to have made an impact.

Anonymous said...

Nobody...and I mean NOBODY...makes enchiladas like my Momma A. She makes the greatest stacked enchiladas in the world!! Every time she makes them, I snarf on them and enjoy them a great deal as naturally I would. Then I proceed to take a ten-day nap. It's awesome stuff I tell ya!