in which we keep hee-haw-ing southwest

We just can’t stop with the south of the border cuisine here, people. First we had Bobby Flay’s distinctly Mexican beef and black bean chili, then the next night — the very next night! — we baked up some enchiladas. Not just any enchiladas: Ultimate Enchiladas. (I don’t make this stuff up. Take it up with Food Network.)

And ultimate they are. Pulled chicken simmered with cumin, onions, and cilantro, doused with stock and homemade roasted tomatillo-chile salsa, all rolled into a tortilla with some jack cheese and baked until crisp. Because these are the Ultimate Enchiladas, though, we also make black beans and yellow rice, and top the whole thing off with tomatoes and sour cream. And more cilantro. (An obvious head’s up: if you are among those genetically predisposed who find cilantro akin to eating soap, maybe sit this one out.)

For the rest of you: invite friends. This is a lot of food. We halved the recipe, and eating my share of it on Friday night left me incapacitated on Saturday. I dragged myself around mumbling “lemon water” and “lettuce.” Except it was Halloween weekend, so I ate candy instead, and basically you don’t want this to be you, so invite friends.

Ultimate Enchiladas
(From “Tyler’s Ultimate” on the FN)

Makes 10 enchiladas, which I would put at serving 6-8

Roasted Tomatillo-Chile Salsa

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking tray, roast whole tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos for 12 to 14 minutes. Pulse in a food processor with cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice until well combined but still chunky.

Keep the oven at 400 degrees for the enchiladas.

Enchiladas

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish

Coat a large saucepan with olive oil. When hot, add onions and sautee until soft, around 7 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook a further minute.

Lower heat and sprinkle in flour, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn. Gradually add chicken stock. Stir continually until sauce thickens and no longer tastes of flour. Fold in shredded chicken, half the tomatillo salsa, and some additional chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Smear the bottom of a large baking dish with some of the tomatillo salsa. Take a large flour tortilla and briefly flash it over the stove flame, to make it more pliable. Put a scoop of the chicken-tomatillo mixture in the tortilla. Top with cheese and a little more salsa. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar. Place in the baking sheet. Continue until all the tortillas have been used up. Top the dish with tomatillo salsa and some more cheese.

Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, until brown and crispy.

Garnish with more tomatillo salsa, chopped, tomatoes, cilantro, and a scoop of sour cream. Serve with black beans and yellow rice (recipes follow).

Spicy Black Beans

(Maybe I’m just not much of a bean girl, but I didn’t feel like this added much, and intend to omit next time.)

  • 2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, soak the beans in the refrigerator overnight, covered in water by two inches.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions,  jalapeno, garlic, and bay leaf and cook over low heat until they begin to soften, around five minutes. Add the beans and their water. They should be covered by about an inch of water, so add more if necessary. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 – 1.5 hrs, until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yellow Rice

  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until rice has absorbed the water, around 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Discard garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

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