My brother likes to hover while I cook. He peeks. He peers. He squints. He eyes suspiciously.
Mostly, I think, to make sure I'm not adding any orange vegetables to his food. Not that I would ever try to sneak a butternut squash into someone's intestines. Never. Not me. Not once.
Okay. Maybe once. (But really, I only do it because I know what's best. And if I left it to my mother to feed my siblings enough vitamins and minerals. Well, let's just say that the incidence of Rickett's and scurvy in my family would be so high that you'd think it was an autosomal dominant inherited disease. With me being the only Bruno left unscathed.)
So when he and my sister and her boyfriend (yes. The 14 year old has a boyfriend. Who she's been with long enough that he comes to things like birthday dinners and stares googly eyed at her the whole time. And I don't. Shake it off.) came over for my birthday dinner, I was maybe a tad bit anxious.
I mean, so. They like enchiladas. I know that much. But when I say "enchiladas" I mean the plastic that either comes from this dirty filthy disgusting hole in the wall take-out place near our house that my brother thinks is a godsend or this dinner kit that my mother apparently makes for them because she realizes that the Mexican place they love oh so much is probably rat-infested.
So to say that I was walking one serious tightrope with this homemade, semi-authentic version of enchiladas (depending on how much you trust Rick Bayless with your Mexican cuisine). Is an understatement.
And then I went and served it with mashed plantains. Yeah, I kind of like to live on the edge. Play with fire. And tropical fruits. Same thing.
But shockingly enough, this meal was so well received that I had no leftovers the next day to snack on. Even by the googly eyed boyfriend who didn't say a word the entire meal. I like to think that it was just because he was stuffing his face. Then my brother informs me that he does the same thing when my mother cooks. So now I'm not so sure.
Next time Daniel. Just humor me.
My point being that if you like Mexican food, or even if you think you don't. You should try these enchiladas. And the mashed plantains. They will provide you with a whole smorgasboard of flavor and make you so happy that even writing your public health paper on childhood obesity and school lunches won't get you down.
Now remind me again why I didn't make a double batch of these...
If you like what you see here at Eats Well With Others, I would really appreciate it if you voted for my entry in MarxFoods' Ridiculously Delicious Competition!
Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Melted Cheese
Serves 4, adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday
4 medium dried puya or guajillo chiles
2 cloves garlic, quartered
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
12 corn tortillas
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup queso fresco
1. Turn on the oven to 350. Set a medium skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, toast the chile pieces a few at a time, pressing them against the hot surface with a spatula until aromatic and lightened in color underneath – about 10 seconds per side. Transfer the chiles to a blender jar. Add the garlic, tomatoes, cumin, and black pepper. Blend.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Pour the tomato/chile sauce into the pan. Cook, stirring until sauce is reduced to tomato paste, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Taste the sauce and season with salt, usually about 1 ½ tsp, and the sugar. Stir in additional broth if necessary. Spread ½ cup sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Stir in ½ cup sauce into the chicken.
4. In batches of three tortillas, heat in the microwave for 40 seconds or until warm and pliable. Lay out a warm tortilla, top with chicken and roll up. Lay seam side down in the baking dish. Continue filling and rolling the rest of the tortillas. Ladle the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheese.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Serves 5, adapted from Emeril Lagasse
4 green plaintains
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup skim milk
4 cloves garlic, minced
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, remove skin from plantains and cut crosswise into 2-inch slices. Cover with the juice of one lime, tossing to coat. When water is boiling, add the plantains and cook for 25 minutes.
2. Strain the plantains and remove to a bowl. In that same pot, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook the garlic, stirring, until fragrant - 1-2 minutes. Add the plantains back into the pot. Turn off the heat and mash with the cream and milk. Mash until they are the consistency of lumpy potatoes, adding broth if necessary. Season to taste with salt.