Sunday, April 08, 2007
Mixed Grill Mole Enchiladas with Cucumber Salsa
We craved authentic Mexican food - the kind we'd get at La Paloma in Quincy or Salsa's in Southie... smooth textures, a little spiciness, cheesiness, and a hint of chocolate lingering in the background, mole-style. We thought we'd try a new one (for us) to satisfy this craving and make Baked Enchiladas.
We had to construct this one from the outside in - so here's what we knew: we wanted the filling to be comprised solely of beans and meat, we wanted some fresh green salsa-type topping to offset the meat and beans, we wanted to make our own enchilada sauce, and we wanted that sauce to be mole-style - with a little chocolate flavor mixed in with just a hint of spicy chipotle.
That left us with questions - firstly, what kind of meat? We knew we'd be making dinner with leftovers in mind (as usual) so we came to the conclusion - we got the room, why not TWO kinds of meat? Why not, indeed. So we picked up an inexpensive steak (top round, about 1lb) and a package of boneless/skinless chicken thighs that were on sale (also about a lb).
Second question - beans. We wanted to make our own refried beans because we know what texture and flavor we like in our beans. Refried beans aren't actually RE-fried - they are only "fried" once. So, what kind of beans? Ummmm.... how 'bout RED!
What kind of fresh salsa? Cuke-and-corn. How do you make enchilada sauce? With a roux, raw tomato sauce, and mucho gusto. What to drink with this enormous meal? Margaritas, of course! Plus we can use some tequila in our mixed grill marinade.
So we did just that - we allowed the chicken thighs and the steak to marinate in separate freezer bags consisting of some healthy splashes of tequila, some good-old American lager (these were some drunk meats), olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and salt. They stewed in their liquor for an hour or so before they were ready to meet the grill.
At the same time, we prepared our Cuke-and-Corn salsa in advance so it would be given time to settle in the fridge: into a bowl went an English cucumber partially peeled and chopped into quarters, two vine-ripe tomatoes cut into chunks, one 8oz can of corn (drained), the juice of 2 limes, 1 tbps olive oil, 2 tbsp chopped cilantro and a few pinches of salt. The salsa needed some heat, so we took out a jar of sliced jalapenos and added four minced little rings. After adding a couple of splashes of cider vinegar, it was ready to go in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Back to the meat - since we'll be shredding these and cooking them again in the oven, cooking times seemed less important - so all the meat went on a hot grill and got flipped and smoked and grilled for a while, we lost track of how long. When they appeared ready (and were tasting deliciously tangy and spicy), they came out for a rest - later to be chopped up into little pieces - and we soldiered on...
We were ready to start the final two componants - the sauce and the beans. We started a roux in one pan with a couple tbls of canola oil with a couple tbls of flour. When that was a nice tan, we added a bunch of chili powder and slowly mixed in one 8oz can of tomato sauce, then about a cup-and-a-half of water. That got to a great consistancy right away, so we added some cumin and a little salt and let that come up to a simmer.
In the other pan, we started sauteing some garlic and onion, and then we added two cans of drained red beans. Then Stacey got out her masher and went to work. After the mashing was complete, we added some liquid that we mixed from some of that enchilada sauce combined with water. When that liquid combined with the mashed beans achieved the texture we were looking for, we added some of those same old Mexican spices until the beans were the exact flavor we were looking for.
The final touch on the sauce - some semi-sweet chocolate chips (only about a dozen or so of them, a little goes a long way) and a few shakes of ground chipotle to LIVEN things up.
Oven to 400-degrees, we were ready to assemble. First, we spread a little enchilada sauce across the bottom of a glass baking dish. Then, wheat tortilla in hand, we spread some beans on the bottom and topped with the now-shredded meat, rolled the tortilla up, and placed seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat for a total of four times with chicken and four times with steak.
(we need a new camera)
Over that? All that mole enchilada sauce... poured over it and spread out so everything gets moist. And over that? What do you think - cheese! A good amount of shredded "Mexican" cheese.
Into the oven for ~25 minutes, the cheese on the top browned up nicely (we actually finished it by firing up the broiler for 5 minutes) and the bubbly concoction came out. We plated one steak and one chicken for each of us and topped with some healthy scoops the cool cuke salsa (cool? spicy!)...
Absolutely delicious - such a great texture and the tortilla edges had crisped up a little... just a hint of chocolate (you can smell it more than taste it) and a touch of spicy chipotle, all cooled down with the cuke and cilantro. Wonderfully authentic-tasting - and with two kinds of meat! We enjoyed these with a margarita and the Red Sox night game and thought about warmer summer temperatures to come.