Friday, January 22, 2010

Tex-Mex dinner: Veggie enchiladas verdes and chiles rellenos

I made this dinner back in November, and I really thought I'd already posted photos and recipes, but I guess I hadn't! This is what I make when I get a craving for Tex-Mex (especially Chuy's), and I have a feeling I'll be making it often now that we're in Georgia.

The recipes are really general, since the fillings are really up to you. I like to make vegetable enchiladas, but you can easily do shrimp and cheese (that's the filling I use for the chiles), chicken, cheese (a mixture of cheddar and soft Mexican white cheese like queso fresco is my favorite), ground beef, steak or anything you want. Even the vegetable filling is flexible -- for example, I don't really like mushrooms, but if you do, they'd be a great addition.

While you can serve it with rice, beans and guacamole, I'd be very impressed if you found room to eat it all!

Preparation notes:
If you're making both dishes and using fresh peppers instead of canned for the enchiladas, roast the peppers for the enchiladas and the chiles rellenos at the same time. You can also make the fillings for both dishes at the same time. You'll use the same sauce for both.

Roasting peppers:
If you're using raw peppers like Anaheims or poblanos, roast them first by putting them on a cookie sheet 4-6 inches under the broiler until the skins start to blacken, turning once. Remove the chiles and cover immediately (you can even place them in the freezer at this point), letting them sit for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins.
For the enchiladas: Use a sharp knife to loosen and remove the skins, then remove the seeds and veins if you want a milder chile. Remove the stems and dice the peppers for the enchiladas
For the chiles rellenos: Remove the skins but not the stems and keep the peppers whole. Be careful not to tear these chiles, as you'll be stuffing them.

This makes anywhere from 10 to 12 enchiladas, depending on how much filling I make. I usually make as many as I want to eat (plus leftovers), then freeze the rest. They're easy to pop in the oven frozen and cook at a later date.

Veggie Enchiladas Verdes

1 to 2 dozen corn tortillas
Vegetable oil

Verde Sauce:
1 large can tomatillos (the easy way)
1-1.5 pounds raw tomatillos (about 14)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 lime
1/4 to 1/2 cup broth (vegetable or chicken)
cilantro (optional)
2-4 oz. sour cream (optional)

Vegetable Filling:
1 cup cooked black beans
diced tomatoes
1 10-oz bag spinach
1 zucchini or squash
1 4-oz can chopped green chiles (the easy way)
1 pepper of your choice (Anaheim* and jalapeno are great for spice, bell peppers great for more mild flavor)
cheddar, Monterey Jack or Mexican soft white cheese (queso blanco or queso fresco) shredded or crumbled

Verde sauce
To make the sauce with fresh tomatillos:
Remove the papery skins and rinse the tomatillos. Put the tomatillos in a saucepan with enough water to cover, then boil for about 10 minutes, until softened. Drain. Place in a food processor (or use my best friend, an immersion blender) until smooth. Add chopped jalapeno and cilantro, blend again until smooth. Let simmer on low while you make the enchilada filling. Stir occasionally, and use broth to thin if necessary. After you've assembled the enchiladas, right before pouring the sauce over them, squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the sauce and add a couple of spoonsful of sour cream (optional).

To make the sauce with canned tomatillos:
Drain the can and rinse tomatillos before pureeing with chopped jalapeno and cilantro. Let simmer on low while you make the filling. Stir occasionally, and use broth to thin if necessary. After you've assembled the enchiladas, right before pouring the sauce over them, squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the sauce and add a couple of spoonsful of sour cream (optional).

Vegetable filling
To make the filling, dice and boil the potatoes until soft. Steam or saute the spinach until wilted. Cook the corn (I usually just use frozen corn and zap it in the microwave) and saute the squash and any other vegetables you don't want raw (like the mushrooms, if you want them).   Let the potatoes cool a little bit, then mix all the vegetables (including the roasted peppers) together with the shredded/crumbled cheese. Set the filling aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Heat a small amount of vegetable oil (less than a tablespoon) in a skillet. Place a tortilla in the oil for 4 or 5 seconds, until it gets hot and starts to puff up or blister, then flip it over for another few seconds. Remove the tortilla to a 9x14 baking dish. Place a tablespoon or so (I usually just use a loose handful) of filling in the tortilla, roll it up and place the enchilada seam-side down in the dish. Repeat until the filling is gone. Top with verde sauce and crumbled white cheese. Bake at 350 until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese is melted.

Chiles Rellenos
recipe adapted from Cuisine of the American Southwest by Anne Lindsay Greer

4 roasted and peeled poblano peppers (see roasting instructions above)
2 eggs, separated
1-2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
oil for frying

1 cup cooked and chopped shrimp
1 cup shredded cheddar or crumbled Mexican white cheese
chopped cilantro (optional)

Carefully make a small slit down the length of each chile to allow for the filling. Keep the stems intact and gently remove the seeds without breaking the chile. Stuff with about 1/2 cup of the filling, and if necessary to enclose the stuffing in the chile, overlap the slit edges and secure with a toothpick.

Beat the egg yolks with the flour until very thick. Beat the whites with the salt to stiff peaks, then fold the whites into the yolks.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet. Dip the chiles carefully in the batter, one at a time, and place them in the skillet. Do not overfill the skillet -- it's better to fry the chiles one at a time than to have them too close together. Cook until browned and crispy. Use tongs to turn the chiles to cook evenly, spooning more batter over the top right before turning if necessary. Serve topped with the verde sauce from the enchiladas (the optional sour cream is excellent with the chiles, even if you don't use it for the enchiladas).

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