Friday, June 24, 2011

A Taste of Texas

I am loving so many things about Durham, I could fill up this whole blog! (And I probably will.) I have a long list of restaurants to visit, and a few of them are Mexican. However, I'm not getting my hopes up. I was spoiled with the best Mexican food in the country back in Houston. I'm not ashamed to admit that we ate Lupe Tortilla fajitas every Friday night for two years, and I never once got tired of them. I know that the farther you venture from Texas and Mexico, the slimmer your chances are of finding good Tex-Mex. So I've brought along my favorite Mexican recipes to cook when I'm craving some bubbly cheese. I did have one minor panic attack when a grocery store here didn't sell tortillas AT ALL. I'm used to fresh tortillas made in the grocery store in Texas, so no tortillas at all was not going to fly. Thankfully, another grocery store had a whole display of tortillas. None made in-store, mind you... but they were adequate.

I always thought it was pretty near impossible to make homemade enchiladas and that one would have to spend the entire day in the kitchen stirring various pots to make it happen. This is not true. I found a Rachael Ray enchilada recipe and have adapted it for my taste, adding a little more spice. I make this recipe all the time, and it is surprisingly quick considering there are no shortcuts at all. It includes cooking and shredding your own chicken and making enchilada sauce from scratch. Don't be scared - it's simple, and it all comes together in 30 - 45 minutes. When we finally make some friends here and have them over for dinner, I may just give them a Taste of Texas!

Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Rachael Ray

1 package yellow corn tortillas (9 or 10 will fill a pan)

3 cups chicken broth
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 dried bay leaf
1 onion, roughly chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

2 cups canned tomato sauce
several drops of hot pepper sauce (like Cholula or Tabasco)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (this is amazing... gives it a really great taste)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1-2 chopped canned chipotles (you can take these out if you don't want added spice, but I love the taste they add)
1-2 spoonfuls adobo sauce (again, optional)
2 cups shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese

1. Combine chicken stock, onion, oregano, and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil. It will smell so fragrant! It is totally easy and worth it to flavor the cooking liquid this way!

2. Once broth comes to a boil, add chicken breasts whole. Reduce to a simmer and poach chicken until cooked through - about 10-15 minutes. I sometimes pull out the chicken and cut into it to see if it's cooked.

3. While the chicken cooks, wrap tortillas in foil and place in a 200 degree oven to warm up. They will be more pliable and easier to roll if they are warm.
4. Put the enchilada sauce together. Stir together tomato sauce, chipotles, adobo, hot sauce, cinnamon, and chili powder in a sauce pan and warm over medium/low heat.
5. When the chicken is cooked, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and let cool on a cutting board. DO NOT throw away the cooking liquid or anything in the pan!! When chicken has cooled enough to handle, shred it with a fork and a knife.

6. In a bowl, combine the shredded chicken with onions and oregano leaves from the cooking liquid (discard oregano stems and only use leaves).
7. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to the chicken. Stir to combine.
8. Remove tortillas from oven. Hold each tortilla in your palm, and spoon a small amount of chicken filling in the center. Roll the tortilla over the filling, and place the enchilada seam side down in a shallow Pyrex baking pan.
9. Keep filling enchiladas until you fill your pan. Press the enchiladas tight up against each other as you fill the pan so they don't come apart.
10. Use a ladle to cover your enchiladas with your delicious homemade sauce. Sprinkle shredded pepper jack (or cheddar) over the top.
11. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes and then broil on high until cheese is brown and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes and serve with rice and/or beans!



Nicki said...

We have NO good Mexican food restaurants here -- it's the one thing I go CRAZY for whenever we get back to the Lone Star State. :) Thanks for this recipe -- this looks great -- always impressed with what you cook!

GraceAnna said...

Katie, I don't know if they have Trader Joe's (it's a grocery store) in Texas, but they have one in Chapel Hill. You'll have to go! It's a really fun grocery store! And you have to go to Foster's Market, it was my favorite restaurant! And I don't know if you are into coffee and pastries but there was a really cool Swedish bakery right behind it.

Liz said...

Um. I was saving this on my google reader so I could go look at it and make these asap. Then I saw they had one million ingredients and I lost faith in myself. I'm so lame.

Can't wait to see more pics and hear more about your new spot!!! XOXOXOXO

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