Enchiladas a Hundred Ways: Recipe 1

I have been making enchiladas for years and enjoy it. It’s always a favorite, but the irony is that my “world renowned enchiladas” change with each time I make it. Some are green, most are red. Some are vegetarian, often they have chicken. So, here’s the start of cataloging of all my variations.

This is Kale Enchiladas in Green Sauce. This recipe is vegetarian.

The Upshot

Lots of autumn in this recipe. It’s hearty and flavorful. The sauce came out somewhat thick, so I added about 2 Tblsp of water per cup of sauce as I used it both for heating tortillas and covering the dish.

The Recipe

¾ pound tomatillos (about a dozen medium ones)
4 mild green Anaheim peppers
3 spicy green Serano peppers
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 medium shallot
1/3 cup cilantro
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large bundle kale (about 1 pound), chiffonade
½ pound Colby-Jack cheese
12-14 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350°.

To make the sauce, blanch tomatillos in boiling water, about 5 minutes, until green but don’t let them lose color. Put into a food processor with peppers, garlic, oil, onion, shallot, cilantro and spices. Process until smooth.

For the filling, saute the onion in a large pan over low heat until translucent. Add garlic and cover the pan; let cook for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant. Add the kale, cover and cook until the kale it reduced to about 1/3 original size. Let cool.

In a small sauce pan, about the diameter of your tortillas, heat the sauce a cup at a time, or enough to fill the pan to one inch. Keep the flame low and bring it up to warm, but below a simmer (you don’t want to burn your fingers). Place a tortilla in the pan, buried in the sauce and let cook for a couple minutes. You want the tortilla to soften enough to roll, but not so much that it falls apart. (Fortunately, tortillas come in packs of 24 or 30 or 100.) When the tortilla is soft, remove from pan and place into a 9×13 baking dish. Immediately start another tortilla in the pan. Place a generous handful of kale filling in the middle of the tortilla, spread into a line from one side to another (make sure you get some onions in each). Add a small pinch of cheese. Roll the tortilla until it’s wrapped itself and push to the edge of the pan.

Repeat this with the next tortilla, pushing up against the one previous one in the pan. My preferred pan fits two rows of 6 tortillas perfectly. Feel free to move and adjust the tortillas to get as many enchiladas in the baking dish as you can.

When the baking dish in packed, pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, being sure to cover the edges. The tortilla edges that are rolled to the top may burn or dry out when cooked if they don’t have some sauce on them. Spread the rest of the cheese on top, adding more if desired.

Put the enchiladas in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The cheese should be melted, the filling should be hot, but you don’t want to dry them out.

Serves 6.

Pulled Pork a Hundred Ways: Recipe 1

I have made pulled pork a few times; usually with a slow cooker and barbecue sauce. It works, but I wanted something better; and something that I can call my own recipe. I thought I’d try a number of different approaches and keep track of what I put in each time and how it tasted. So here’s the inaugural attempt. I don’t own a smoker, so this is (and likely all future attempts will be) a braised pork recipe with BBQ sauce.

The Up-shot

This was not my best pulled pork. It ended up good, but not mouthwatering and, honestly, a little dry.

The pork loin roast I used was two pieces, which helped keep the lard and pork fat hot enough to brown. However, it was trimmed almost to no fat. I think extra fat would have helped the flavor. I browned the fatty side first to render off more fat for browning. If the roast had not already been trimmed I would have just trimmed it myself and used the fat for browning, rather than lard.

Next attempt, I might try brining the roast first. Either by patting with salt and letting it sit at room temperature for an hour, soaking in a brine in the fridge over night (then reducing the amount of liquid in the sauce) or dry-rubbing with some of the spices and salt and letting it refrigerate over night.

I also found the sauce had pretty much lost all character. I think adding something like beer, wine or vinegar during reduction would brighten it up. Of course, this isn’t a very sweet sauce; so perhaps some brown sugar would make it more enjoyable.

The Recipe

2 tablespoons lard
1 boneless, lean pork loin roast (3½ pounds), in two pieces

½ cup onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup Jack Daniels whiskey
½ cup apple cider vinegar
juice of ½ lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon fennel seed, whole
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, whole
1 teaspoon peppercorns, whole
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
1-½ teaspoons salt
½ medium tomato

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the lard and melt until clear, but not smoking.

Brown each pork roast piece individually on all sides starting with the fatty side. Remove and set aside as pieces are browned.

Lower the heat on the fat and add onions, stirring until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Pour Jack Daniels into the pan and deglaze, being careful to keep the temperature low enough not to boil. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients except a ½ teaspoon salt and the tomato and stir. Cover the casserole, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Immediately add the roast pieces, fat side up, and keep over medium heat until the liquid is simmering.

Transfer the covered casserole to the oven and cook until the roast can be pulled apart with a fork, about two hours, turning meat halfway through cooking.

Remove the pork to a bowl. Strain the sauce, reserving the liquid to cool. Add the solids, a little liquid, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the half tomato to a blender and blend until smooth.

Using a pair of forks, split the pork into strands.

When the broth has cooled, skim fat off the top.

Bring the broth to a simmer, whisk in the puree from the blender and simmer until reduced to half the volume. Pour this sauce into the pork and mix thoroughly. Continue to mix, periodically, until you serve to ensure that the pork absorbs as much of the liquid as possible.