August 6, 2007

Viva enchiladas!

We just got the new range (dual-fuel baby!) installed on Thursday, so I've been having fun making all our favorites that we haven't been able to have for the past 3 months. DH couldn't decide on what he wanted his first meal that he chose (I had chosen chicken marsala the night before), so I suggested enchiladas. His eyes lit up, and I knew that was a winning suggestion. I got this recipe (I've changed it a bit) from Cook's Illustrated several months ago, and it's delicious. I will add a bit of cayenne to the spices to kick up the heat a bit if it's just DH and I. These will freeze quite well too.

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

1 medium onion , chopped fine
1 tsp. vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic , minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
3 tsp. ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. pickled jalapenos, chopped
chopped1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
1 lime , cut into wedges (for serving)
Ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the onion, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Toss together the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup of the cheddar, the jalapeños, and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40 to 60 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean work surface. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

5. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray. Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Serve, passing the remaining 1 cup sauce and the lime wedges separately.

August 5, 2007

Too many tomatoes!

I planted quite a few varieties of tomatoes this year. Most of them are heirloom varieties (Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Old German, Anna Russian) but I was fortunate enough to find the kind of sauce tomatoes, the San Maranzano. They are very similar to roma (or plum) tomatoes, but are a bit meatier and less acidic. At any rate, I have them coming out of my ears at this point, and decided to make a fresh tomato sauce. With this heatwave we've been having, I diddn't want something too heavy. I decided a fresh tomato sauce tossed with pasta would be perfect. I used penne rigate, that I had cooked just short of al dente. Then, I added the cooked pasta to the sauce and cooked for an additional minute or two. Topped with some good parmigiano-regiano cheese, and some basil for garnish. Ahh, I'm going to miss summer!

Fresh Tomato Sauce
2 pounds fresh San Maranzano or Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped (any tomato will do, I used a large Brandywine in my last batch)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 fresh basil leaves

Heat olive oil until shimmering over medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add fresh tomatoes and salt, and stir. Once the sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to low. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to the desired thickness. Tear basil into smaller pieces and add to the sauce in the last few minutes of cooking. Can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.