Yesterday was the RBS Six Nations final. We didn't have enough dosh to buy a ticket to Twickenham, so opted for a couch view instead.
In the weeks leading up to yesterday i started craving enchiladas. Probably it has something to do with a) going to uni in Dallas, Texas; b) rugby looking a lot like American football (don't worry i appreciate it wholly for what it IS not what it's LIKE); and c) needing something hot and spicy to offset cans of Red Stripe (or is it supposed to be the other way around?
These were not your ordinary Old El Paso pre-processed enchilada packs. These were real home-made beef enchiladas with an earthy spicy red sauce. The only thing that wasn't home made were the tortillas. I used to have a tortilla press that would come out once or twice a year and finally parted with it after too many house moves.
The recipe comes from The Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. The book is a treasure trove of facts and recipes of the diverse regional cooking styles from all over Mexico. I bought it over 20 years ago when i moved from Texas back to NYC. I missed the food that was so readily available and wanted to recreate it at home. At that time Mexican food and ingredients were near impossible to find in New York City. I had dried chilies mailed to me from friends back in Texas, and on the odd occasion was able to find fresh poblanos. Proper fresh corn tortillas were also sometimes difficult to find. Over time the Mexican population in NYC grew and it was exciting to watch that food culture finally take root in the city.
Enchiladas de Jalisco (serves 4)
1 courgette (about 125 g)
2 small carrots (about 250 g)
3 small red-skinned or waxy potatoes (250 g)
2 large beef tomatoes (500g)
250 g course beef mince
250 g course pork mince (*Note: i used 500g beef mince and omitted the pork)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp parsley finely chopped
10 guajillo chiles (about 60g)
2 whole cloves
1/4 inch piece of cinnamon stick
8 corn tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
- Trim the courgette but leave whole. Top and tail the carrots, peel and quarter lengthwise. Peel the potatoes and cut in half. Cover the vegetables with boiling water and add 2 tsp salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
- Tightly squeeze the meat into two large meatballs. Add to the vegetables along with the two tomatoes. Let cook covered until the vegetables are just tender. Drain the veg and meat and reserve the broth.
- Peel the two tomatoes and puree in a blender.
- When cool enough to handle, cut the veg into small dice and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan and put in the dried chilies. Move them around so as not to burn. Remove from heat as soon as you smell them. Remove the stems and seeds from the chilli pods and cover the pods with hot water. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- In a large frying pan heat a couple Tbsp lard and saute the chopped onion until soft but not coloured. Crumble in the meatballs and add the parsley. Cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in the tomato puree and let bubble until the tomato sauce has thickened slightly.
- Add the chopped veg and 1/3 cup reserved broth and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
- Remove the chilli pods from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender jar. Add 1 cup reserved broth along with the cloves, cinnamon and some salt. Process until smooth and adjust seasoning.
- In a separate frying pan heat another Tbsp of lard and cook the chilli sauce for about 5-8 minutes until rich and thick. Add more reserved broth if the sauce is too thick.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. In a thirday frying pan lightly fry each tortilla in oil for no more than a few seconds each side. Place on kitchen roll to drain.
- Now you prepare an assembly line. First take a tortilla, dip both sides in the sauce then tranfer the tortilla to a rectangular oven dish. Spoon some of the piccadillo onto the edge of the tortilla and roll up tightly. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas until the piccadillo is finished. Line the enchiladas up side by side in the oven dish. If you need another layer spread some sauce over the bottom layer of enchiladas first. Finish by spreading more sauce over the enchiladas and scatter grated cheddar cheese over the top. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
- This is best served with rice and refried beans.