Comfort Food – Enchiladas

I’m trying to get myself back on a blogging schedule, and since I’m working through a bunch of writing projects on deadline, I’ve been cooking to relax. So, two birds, one stone?

For as white and xenophobic as my family was, growing up, I had a surprising amount of cultural influence through food. In California, it’s hard not to eat Mexican or Indian food, so the things that make me feel comfortable and happy on the soul-deep level of comfort food tend to be things like curry and rice, burritos…and plates of enchiladas with rice and refried beans.

I’ve been on a “try all the cookbook things” kick lately, so I’ve been challenging myself a lot. Making bread for the first time, learning to cook venison, pork with baked apples, recipes with multiple components and steps and unfamiliar seasoning blends. It’s been a lot of fun, and really tasty, but I’ve been craving those comforting tastes of cumin, garlic, chilies, onions, and tomatilloes. I’ve been sick for the last week, and am on several deadlines, so this seemed a good night to go easy.

I swear, I tried to do a lazy, easy dinner. I wanted enchiladas but not the greasy, cheese-laden ones, because those have their place, but not today, so I was going to make it easy on myself by getting one of those pre-roasted rotisserie chickens and a package of frozen veggie chicken, and then use premade tomatillo puree and a bunch of cilantro to make enchiladas verde.
 
The store was out of veggie chicken, rotisserie chicken, and cilantro. So my super-easy enchiladas turned into roasted chicken thigh with pepper and onion for the meat version, and mushroom, onion, and veggie beef for the veggie, homemade refried beans, and hominy cooked in tomato. Not exactly the easy, quick meal I had in mind, but oh, my soul is happy now.

Two Enchiladas Verde

Notes: I used a tortilla that’s a corn and flour blend. I like that I get a tortilla that bends but doesn’t get slimy, and has a little more bite than either.

You can use fresh tomatillos, I didn’t because I had a tomatillo puree and a lack of desire to expend more effort. The brand I use is Rick Bayless, which I got at Whole Foods.

I cooked dry beans for refried beans, so I used the broth from those to moisten the vegetarian filling. Keep in mind that what liquid you use will influence the salt level.

If you’ve ever talked to me about food, you know I suck at measurements. I throw pinches and handfuls and shake a bit out until it looks right and then add a little more of something else. So feel free to experiment and find the balance that works for you! 

16 tortillas

2 cups tomatillo puree

1 small can Hatch chilies (mild or hot, depending on your palate)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

 

Vegetarian

1 package Gardein beef tips

1 package sliced white or baby bella mushrooms

½ cup sliced or chopped onions

¼ cup cotija cheese

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

¼ cup veggie stock or liquid from beans

 

Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

½ onion

1 bell pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

¼ cup cotija cheese

 

Preparation

 

Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the bell pepper, onion, and olive oil together in an oven-safe frying pan or baking dish. Rub the chicken thighs in seasonings and set them on the onions and peppers. Stick the whole pan in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Toss the mushrooms and onions for the veggie filing with the spices and oil. Spread them out into a thin layer on a baking sheet, and pop them in the oven next to the chicken. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the onions are nicely caramelized. If you like stronger flavors, leave in the oven until the mushrooms have a strong golden sear.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool. Meanwhile, heat up the beef tips in a hot pan until they sizzle. Add the cooked mushrooms and onions, and stir. Pour liquid over, and reduce heat so the mixture steams for a while.

Mix your tomatillo puree, chilies, onion, garlic, cumin, and salt in a pan and bring to a low simmer for about ten minutes.

Once the chicken mixture is cool enough to handle, chop it into a fine dice. Mix in the cotija cheese.

Chop the veggie mix and stir in the cotija.

Wrap two spoonfuls of mixture in a tortilla and tuck it into the pan. Repeat until all filling is used up, adjust as necessary. Pour half the sauce over each pan, and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, guacamole, refried beans, Spanish rice, hominy, or any combination of the above.

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