I love Latin American cuisine. You name it, I love it. Mexican, Cuban, Caribbean – I’m not picky. And the spicier the better.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if it’s so hot you can’t taste it (or if its just heat and no flavor), then I’m out. There’s just no sense in that. But, if it makes you sweat, and it tastes really good, and the chilies add that certain something that only capsaicin can add, then count me in.
So, when I saw that this month’s Daring Cooks challenge involved making your own salsa verde and enchiladas? Well, let’s just say I was only slightly more than thrilled.
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.
Their recipe called for Anaheim peppers, but all I could find were Poblanos. And since I made this dish for Cinco de Mayo, and since that particular holiday celebrates the defeat of the French by the Mexican people at Puebla (from whence the Poblano chili hails), I thought it only appropriate that this was the case.
Additionally, I chose to use beef instead of chicken. I had half a beef brisket in my freezer, left over from when I made Corned Beef and Cabbage
back in March, and I decided to do a rub on it and cook it overnight (like I do my Overnight Roast Pork Shoulder
, only this time I did it with brisket). The rub for the meat consisted of the following (these are all approximate amounts, mind you):
Ingredients for Rub for a 4 lb. Brisket
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic (or 3 or 4 cloves fresh)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Smear it all on the the meat and let it sit and marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Stick it in a 225F oven, uncovered, fat side up, and let it cook overnight. For like 8-12 hours. That’s all.
You’ll end up with beautifully tender, moist, succulent beef.
Our lovely hosts indicated that you could use store-bought tortillas (corn or flour) for this challenge, but I decided to try my hand a making my own. I’ve made flour tortillas before, but had never attempted corn. I picked up some masa harina at the grocery and went to work, simply following the directions on the package. It was actually quite easy, although I wish I’d had a tortilla press to make them thinner. Flavor-wise, they were great.
The Salsa Verde, which was really the only constant requirement in the challenge, contained:
5 tomatillos, papery outer skin removed
1-2 poblano peppers (I used one large)
Chicken stock (the original recipe called for 4 cups, but I thought that was extremely excessive. I only used about 1/4-1/2 cup)
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
I ran my tomatillos and peppers under the broiler in my oven, charring their skin. When I removed them, I placed the pepper in a paper bag and sealed it by folding over the top. I let that steam a bit to loosen the skin.
I placed the charred tomatillos in the bowl of my food processor. Once the peppers had steamed and cooled enough to handle, I removed the skin and cut the top off to remove the stem and seed pod. I threw the peppers in the bowl of the processor too, along with the garlic. I turned it on and let it go. I poured the chicken stock in through the feed-tube and stopped when it seemed like it was a good consistency. I tasted it for seasoning and added a little salt to perk up the flavor.
To assemble the dish, I placed a tortilla on the bottom, followed by a layer of meat, a layer of queso fresco ( a lovely Mexican crumbling cheese that is somewhat reminiscent of a very mild Feta cheese), and then repeated that three times, ending with a tortilla (total of four tortillas).
I topped the whole thing with a healthy ladle full of the salsa verde and some more of the queso fresco and baked it all in a 350F oven until the cheese had melted and it was warmed completely through.
It turned out to be quite a hit at our house on Cinco de Mayo. My husband finished his and asked for more. Unfortunately, I’d only made enough for each of us to have one, so he had to make do by making a taco with some flour tortillas we had in the fridge.
I had some extra Poblano peppers and brisket, so later that same week, I made stuffed Poblano peppers
with a fresh avocado and corn salad
. I topped the peppers with the salsa verde and queso fresco before I baked them, and they were excellent. Another great application for this flavorful sauce!