Posts tagged Mexican

Amish Nachos

Well, not technically. I don’t know that you’ll find any folks down in Amish country (only about a hour or so south of us) serving these at the next barn raising, but we dubbed our latest creation ‘Amish nachos’ purely because of the key ingredient–Amish bacon.

You haven’t tried Amish bacon? I hadn’t either until I found a meat shop at Cleveland’s West Side Market that offers it by the pound for $3.49. Amish bacon comes thick slices imbued with a heavy smoky flavor that’s less salty and, oh, forced than your regular variety (less greasy too).

So here’s how we put our nachos together–start with quality nacho chips (we stopped at the only Mexican market in city, Mi Pueblo, to track down our favorite brand). Then make up a pot of refried beans and cook up a batch of bacon. Have shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (yes, I know real Mexican food doesn’t use yellow cheeses, but hey nachos aren’t authentic either–gotta play with your food, right?), diced tomatoes and cilantro on hand to finish the dish. Once you have all of your ingredients gathered, the rest is easy: place an individual serving of chips on each person’s plate, followed by beans, bacon, then cheese. Melt the cheese in the microwave on high for about 55 seconds and then top with tomatoes and cilantro.

Sure bacon goes with eggs or sandwiches, but the smoky flavor and the quick cooking make it easy to include in other dishes too. I don’t know if this really qualifies as Amish-Mexican fusion food or not, but it’s tasty. Have you done any crazy fusion meals lately? Asian-Italian stirfry anyone?

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Grilling Time! Spicy Green Chile Burgers

Chances are you’ve had your share of hamburgers this summer—from the good, like the juicy patties grilled on your backyard barbecue to the tasteless, you know, the ones that come in a 30-pack that are served at large get-togethers (plastic cheese melted on top). It’s time to mix up your burger repertoire!

We’re constantly experimenting with burgers around our house. New toppings. New mix-ins. New meat (turkey burgers are my favorite). Looking for burger inspiration? I’ve got a few ideas and a tasty recipe to get you started.

The Restaurant Swipe

Our version of Burger King’s once-popular Rodeo Burger is my oldest daughter’s favorite. The burger is topped with fried onion rings and barbecue sauce. For a healthier option, use sautéed onions and for a quick fix, use French’s fried onions (no baking required).

Max & Erma’s fan? Do your own improvised Caribbean Burger by topping your grilled burger at home with a slice of fresh or canned pineapple, and then mix a little honey and mustard into some mayo to smear on the bun top.

The Leftover Redo

Leftovers can make for some crazy burger toppings: Reinvent yesterday’s pasta into a mac ‘n cheese burger. Throw coleslaw onto the bun instead of serving it to the side. Grill a slice or two of ham and serve it along with the cheese as a burger topping. Leftovers inspired our green chile burger—the night before we’d made a spicy sauce for enchiladas. We reheated the sauce, then used it on burgers with Monterrey Jack cheese melted on top.

Don’t forget to raid the fruit and vegetable drawer for ideas too! Try out a mango burger by adding a few slices on top or maybe go for a little more Mediterranean feel with thin-sliced cucumbers, red onion a little splash of red wine vinegar and maybe even some hummus.

The Fish Burger

Try something new not just with the burger toppings, but with the kind of meat you use. Ferndale’s The Flytrap restaurant has a salmon burger that’s easy to make at home. Detroit’s top-rated Nemo’s Bar has the same burger on their menu. Fish burgers are in!

Turkey, chicken, pork, sausage, can all be crafted into patties and grilled up for your hungry crew.

Have you tried out a crazy burger idea at a recent barbecue or even at a nearby restaurant? What’s your take on reinventing this summer barbecue favorite?

Recipe

Green Chile Bacon Burger

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 45 minutes

For the burger

2lb 85% lean ground beef

Large wheat hamburger buns or rolls

Monterrey Jack cheese, sliced

1lb thick cut bacon cooked

salt

pepper

onion power

garlic powder

cumin

For the green chile sauce

1 large onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1 or 2 serrano peppers, seeded, diced

2 cups mild green chiles (sold in cans in the Mexican section at the grocers)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

½ teaspoon honey

¼- ½ cup chicken broth

½ teaspoon cumin

salt

To prepare the burger

Form the beef into 6 ¼ lb balls. Place each ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a pan or the bottom of plate to press until you get a patty about ¼ inch thick. Place patties on a cookie sheet and spice liberally with salt, pepper, garlic power, onion power and cumin then flip the patties and spice the other side. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the chile sauce.

To prepare the green chile

In a medium-sized saucepan heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add garlic and Serrano peppers and cook for 2 minutes then add the green chiles and stir. Add the cumin and honey and continue to stir until the mixture starts to brown on to bottom of the pan. Deglaze with chicken broth and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt to taste. Set aside for burger.

Assembly

  • Toast hamburger buns
  • Heat the grill to high. Place the burgers on the grill. Be careful, these burgers cook faster since they are thin, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. During the last minute of grilling, add two strips of bacon to each patty and a slice of cheese. Close the grill top to allow the cheese to melt.
  • Remove the burgers from the grill.
  • Place the hot hamburger on the bottom part of the bun. Add a heaping portion of warmed green chile sauce. Top with the other bun half.
  • Enjoy. Make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand!
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Why Aren’t You Eating…Cholula

Photo credit: jessie.whittle

My oldest could literally drink this stuff–and she does. Splashed on sandwiches, nachoes, soups, she even put a few drops on her chocolate cake a few weeks back.

Cholula is common in Mexico–people serve it as you would ketchup in the US. The flavor is a tangy, vinegary blend of spices that give meals a kick not just of hot, but also chile flavor. It’s like Tabasco sauce with more depth.

You can find cholula at the grocery store in regular, chipoltle, and jalepano. Around our house, we like them all. So the next time you have hot sauce on your shopping list, why not reach for cholula instead?

Hint: Toss a little in the next time you make potato salad.

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Culinary Confession: Canned Tomatillos

Tomatillos

Photo credit: tokyofoodcast

Tomatillos. The bright, green little veggies wrapped in a papery husk taste almost like the cross between a tomato and a lime. Around our house we use them all the time–tossed in chili, whipped into a salsa verde, blended to create a green enchiladas sauce. But truth be told tomatillos stink. Literally. The paper husk smells like rotting dirty socks. When you have to go through a whole pile of them at the grocery store you’re likely to come away with stinky fingers. Plus, using fresh tomatillos right often requires a few steps like boiling or roasting.

On a whim, years ago, I bought canned tomatillos for a recipe that called for pounds of the little greenies. I just couldn’t bring myself to pick out and roast fresh ones so I thought I’d take a little recipe shortcut, just this once. The recipe turned out perfectly. Since then, I’ve been bypassing the produce aisle for the canned variety of tomatillos. There so convenient and quick. I still buy and stink up my fingers to create fresh tomatillo salsas, but for everyday use, I go for the cans.

It’s not just convenience that compels me to go for the can, tomatillos aren’t always available fresh, but you can usually find the cans year round at Krogers in the ethnic foods section. Anyone else hooked on canned tomatillos?

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Authentic Red Chile Enchiladas

Enchiladas. One of my favorite foods in the world has to be these spicy, rich chile-infused little wonders. Not an enchilada fan? I can’t say I’m surprised. Unless you’ve sampled an enchilada dish from an authentic Mexican restaurant, then you likely either ended up with a canned sauce covering the warmed tortillas or worse someone passed along their grandmother’s recipe for baked enchiladas that have been coated in cream of chicken soup. Yikes! Now, there’s nothing wrong with cream of chicken soup but it has no business in an enchilada. You can go ahead and call that a glorified tortilla casserole, but don’t confuse it with true Mexican enchiladas.

Real enchiladas take time and some unfamiliar ingredients to make at home, but they’re not hard—we’re not talking soufflés or anything here!

Here’s the lowdown on making a good enchilada sauce—it’s all about the chiles. I should take a step back here and point out there’s several different kinds of enchilada sauces, from the dark, complex mole to the green tomatillo based varieties. But today, I’m giving you the lowdown on the red chile sauce. The base for the sauce is dried chiles. You can find these in bags at a Mexican grocer or sometimes in the Mexican section of your local store. I know it may be a pain tracking down the chiles—but it’s worth it! The chiles then require some prep work. You need to roast, boil then blend the chile skins to make the spicy enchilada sauce. I often do large batches of sauce and freeze the extras in Ziploc baggies so they’re easy to pop out and use when I get a hankering for something spicy.

After you’ve perfected your sauce (and I promise, I’ll do other versions in the future), you’re ready to assemble your enchiladas. Most recipes call for baking the enchiladas in the oven. There’s no need. In Mexico, the corn tortillas are flash fried and then dipped into the sauce then reheated on the plate. You can do the same at home. If you’re not keen on frying, you can toast the corn tortillas, but they’ll be soggier (the oil keeps the tortillas from becoming saturated in sauce).

If you review the recipe and it sounds a little overwhelming, here are a couple suggestions: Go ahead and buy canned enchilada sauce at the grocery store. El Pato is the best alternative to homemade. Or, head to a decent Mexican restaurant and order a dish of red chile enchiladas. Maybe after downing a plate of savory, spicy enchiladas, you’ll want to make your own at home.

Ready for some spice?

Enchiladas

As with most sauce recipes, this one is pretty forgiving. If you want to toss in a little bit more of one ingredient—go ahead. And if you run out of something, no worries (well, except the chiles). I’ve noted the optional ingredients throughout.

Red Chili Sauce Ingredients:

10 dried ancho chiles (or you can use a combination of chiles)

2 garlic cloves, minced (or ¼ to ½ tablespoon garlic powder)

1 1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

3 tomatoes (or one 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained)

¼ cup chopped onion

Optional: one fresh Serrano chili (seeded and diced—add 1 or 2 if you want the sauce HOT); ¼ cup minced cilantro

Other ingredients:

18 corn tortillas

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

2 cups mozzarella or Monterrey Jack cheese

sour cream

Oil for frying

Directions:

(1)Prep the dried chiles. On a medium-high heat skillet, toast the chiles until the skins start to look softer and slightly cooked (around 4 minutes, rotating the chile as it heats). Immediately place the chiles into a large bowl of hot water. Prepare the other sauce ingredients while the chiles soften.

(2)In a blender, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, chicken broth, cumin, and optional ingredients.

(3)Remove the chiles from the water. Carefully cut around the tops of the chiles and remove as much of the seeds as possible. Add the chile skins to the other blended ingredients. Blend again. (The sauce should be slightly thick and smooth, not chunky. You may need to add more water or chicken broth.)

(4)At this point, you can either cook the enchilada sauce in a crockpot or you can cook it on the stovetop. I often triple this recipe and then put it in the crockpot to cook the sauce then once it’s cooled I store small Ziploc baggies of the sauce in the freezer for months of use.

(5)To prepare the sauce for immediate use, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Bring the oil to medium-high heat and then add the sauce. WARNING: The sauce may splatter and it stains—so wear your apron!

(6)Simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes before preparing the rest of the meal.

(7)Enchilada assembly! In a small saucepan, bring about 1 cup vegetable oil to medium high heat (a piece of bread should immediately begin to sizzle and rise to the top when you place it in the oil). As an alternative to frying, you can toast the tortillas on a hot cooking surface and then keep them warm by covering them with a kitchen towel.

(8)Assemble your enchilada making station: Have 2 bowls ready—1 with shredded chicken and the other with shredded cheese. Have 1 “messy plate” where you’ll assemble the enchiladas and then drag them onto the serving plates.

(9)Get your long-handled tongs ready! Place 1 tortilla into the hot oil. Let the tortilla cook just until it starts to barely harden. Immediately submerge the hot tortilla into the red sauce then back onto your messy plate. Put about 1 ½ tablespoons chicken and 1 tablespoon cheese into each tortilla. I prepare one person’s serving of enchiladas at a time. In other words, I’ll prepare 1, 2, then 3 tortillas together on my messy plate, then gently push them onto a serving plate. Three enchiladas make for 1 adult serving; kids usually eat 2.

(10)Once all the serving plates are assembled. Reheat each individual dish for about 45 seconds in the microwave. Top with an extra scoop of sauce, cheese and then sour cream. The make the enchiladas look extra special, I scoop the sour cream into a Ziploc bag, then cut a small hole in one corner. Then I top the enchiladas with swirls of sour cream. Yummy!

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