March 7, 2007

Tyler’s Enchiladas Verdes

One lazy afternoon Paul and I were lounging around watching the Food Network. There are some shows that really inspire me and then there are shows I just love to hate. If you were lucky enough to read Anthony Bourdain’s hilarious post about the FN over at, then you know what I mean. Molto Mario’s pasta making is being pushed out by Sandra Lee’s can opening and Ms. Ray’s choreography of hand gestures and what can only be described as extreme facial exercises. Meanwhile, Giada’s cleavage is undermining her skills and all of these “how to eat while on vacation” shows are getting tiresome. And I will never, ever forgive them for the Paula Deen Goes to Paris special. Oiy vey.

Okay, I’m getting off track. The point is that all these crappy shows have destroyed what made the Food Network so great – real chefs with real techniques that helped us non-chefs learn a thing or two and maybe even aspire to greatness. I don’t need to hear tips like, “just buy chicken breasts that are already cut up…it’s more expensive, but will save you so much time!” (Thank you, Robin Miller). If I turn on the FN one more time and hear how cooking is a hassle and how quick meals are all about saving me time and valuable energy I could devote elsewhere (to say, eating donuts and watching more tv) I think I’m going to lose it. Sure, we don’t always have hours to devote to slow roasting a pork loin on a busy Tuesday night, but that doesn’t mean I need to buy every expensive, pre-cut item in the store just so I can throw it in a pan and be done with it! Are people out there so starved for ideas that they need a show to tell them to sauté some chicken for a burrito filling? (I’m sure the FN says yes!) And then watch some woman take a bite and proclaim it heavenly and to-die-for. Really? Because I find it pretty damn sad to die for Old El Paso Taco Seasoning. Who are these mutants?

Okay, all this ranting could be seen as pretty shallow and selfish, I admit. Why isn't the FN catering to ME!?! There are lots of clueless people out there that love fast, sodium-laden food and have no idea how to cook anything, right? For them, there is Sandra Lee. But, c’mon, when Emeril looks like the academic, there is something wrong! There is not enough of Mario anymore, and even The Staggering Dicketry of Bobby Flay has been tempered so that Boy Meets Grill is now one of my favorite shows. Tyler Florence has always been fun to watch, and he too, has been mysteriously absent from FN. He’s the nice, sensitive one who helps distressed women cook like their mother-in-laws on Food 911 and travels around to find the ultimate version of a dish on Tyler’s Ultimate. Even if he does talk with his mouth full at the end of every show after tasting what he made, somehow I believe him when he says it's amazing. When Rachael Ray does it, it's like she has to shove it in her face before the show ends or face damnation. (I know, I know...just stop watching!)

So, despite this love/hate relationship, it was Tyler’s Ultimate Enchiladas that got to us the other day. We adore enchiladas, although I promise this will be the last enchilada post for at least a few months! We had never made enchiladas verdes and were seduced by the idea of roasting our own tomatillos and using fistfuls of cilantro for the salsa.

I roasted a whole chicken for this recipe and, in the end, we felt it was necessary. He recommends buying one at the deli, but I had the time, so I did it myself. Tyler’s use of flour tortillas was interesting – I’m used to enchiladas made with corn tortillas. They turned out really well, but I’d like to try corn tortillas next time, or maybe just smaller flour ones. The burrito sized tortillas were so filling I could only eat one or one and a half and they looked gargantuan on the plate. Anyway, a small point, but looks count for something.

The salsa was fantastic. Bright green with flecks of onion and cilantro, it was definitely the star. Next time, we’ll leave the jalapeños whole when roasting them. We cut out the seeds because we didn’t want intense heat, but it was way too mild. We also made the Mango, Jicama and Cucumber Salad to accompany the enchiladas. While I thought it was good – very bright and refreshing – Paul wasn’t a fan. It didn’t taste like more than the 3 ingredients, frankly, but it definitely had potential. I’m always reminded of how much I like jicama whenever I have it. Next time I might try chopping everything finely so it has more of a salsa consistency.

I guess, in the end, the Food Network isn't all bad if it helps make a dinner like this.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa

1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 onion, cut into wedges
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapeños
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ lime

Roast the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeños on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the food processor. Add the cumin, salt and cilantro and puree until well combined but still a little chunky.

Olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
Fresh cilantro
1 (3-4 lb) roasted chicken, meat shredded
Salt and pepper
8-10 large flour tortillas
8 oz Monterey Jack, shredded

Sour Cream and
chopped tomatoes, for garnish

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Sauté the onions until very soft. Add the garlic and cumin and cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over this and mix well. Gradually add the chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Simmer over low heat until thickened. Turn off the heat.

Add half of the tomatillo salsa and the shredded chicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the enchiladas by briefly placing them over the stove top gas flame to warm/char them very slightly. Put some of the chicken filling in each tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, roll up and place in a baking dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas. Spoon the remaining salsa over the top of the tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 4-5.

Serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes or guacamole.

Mango, Jicama and Cucumber Salad

2 mangos, peeled
1 medium jicama, peeled
2 cucumbers, seeds removed
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp chili powder
1 lime

Thinly slice the jicama, mangos and cucumbers in roughly the same size strips. Toss together in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with powdered chili, a little salt and lime juice. Toss well. Serve cold.


Genie said...

Those look delicious and the salsa looks really, really good -- I'm going to have to make that at some point. Tomatillos have long been on my list of things to work with, but I just haven't done it.

I agree with you -- corn tortillas rule hard over flour tortillas. Especially over the ginormous flour ones.

:-) Genie

P.S. By the way -- I haven't forgotten that I owe you an email -- I will get to it, I promise!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love tomatillos and roasting them sounds spectacular! I know just what you mean about jicama and should use it much more often.
Like you I see no point in Sandra Lee and the travel stuff doesn't do it for me. I miss Mario and Sara Moulton. At the same time though I think I've replaced my FN tv with blog reading. So I guess I'm not their audience any longer.

Katie said...

Ooooh, salsa verde, one of my favorite things...which I can only indulge in when I visit the U.S...
I agree about the food network - I used to love watching the Frugal Gourmet, and other old PBS cooking shows (Julia). They were about actual cooking....sigh...

s'kat said...

"The salsa was fantastic."

I am totally hearing Tyler saying this when I read it! LOL!

Culinary said...

I heart enchiladas of all stripes. These sound yummy. I've made a similar mango salad/salsa, and I added some minced jalapeno and coarse salt to up the flavor. The textures were crisp and clean, but without the added spice, mine was a bit bland.