Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coronado Concert in the Park: Enchiladas Suizas and a Pear Vodka Cocktail with a Twist

After spending several days at Rancho La Puerta, a luxury resort spa in Tecate, Mexico, we came home to the August/September Saveur - The Mexico Issue in our mailbox. The food was wonderful at the Ranch, but we were ready for some authentic, bold flavored Mexican food like the creamy chicken enchiladas and red rice featured in the magazine, and a large pitcher of margaritas. 

Nina came up with "twisted" for our concert in the park culinary theme. Chicken Enchiladas didn't really fit in with the theme, other than maybe they could be viewed as a twist on the vegetarian enchiladas we had at RLP. However, I also came across a cocktail recipe that sounded like it would pair very well with the enchiladas and I knew I could easily add a lime twist to each glass. Not a very creative interpretation of the theme, but I now have a new favorite cocktail ;-) very similar to a margarita but made with vodka rather than tequilla. Olé!

The "cocktail" is actually a punch, named Lakeshore Punch, and one of five punch recipes provided by Grey Goose vodka in one of their advertisements. I renamed our version Coronado Breeze because it was so refreshing. And shhhh, don't tell Grey Goose, but I used Absolut Pear Vodka instead of Grey Goose La Poire (the market was out of La Poire and Absolut was about $10 cheaper). The cocktail has pear vodka, pear nectar, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, mint and cucumber. The elderflower liqueur is what makes it so unique, and the mint and cucumber make it refreshing. I served it over ice, as recommended, but it's also nice chilled, straight up. 

For the enchiladas suizas, a trip to Northgate Market was in order for tomatillos, chiles, fresh queso fresco cheese, and still warm, freshly made yellow corn tortillas from the tortilleria. We were also able to find a few ingredients we needed to recreate one of the Peruvian dishes we prepared at RLP's cooking school with the visiting chef from Chile, but that will be another blog post.

Newf Notes about the enchiladas suizas recipe published in Saveur:
  • The recipe takes quite a bit of time to make, with roasting the tomatillos and chiles for the sauce, roasting your own chicken, and frying/rolling the tortillas.  Therefore, double the recipe! As written, using 8 tortillas, it will only serve 4 people. One roasted chicken will yield 6 cups of shredded chicken to fill at least 16-20 tortillas.
  • The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 inch baking dish for 8 enchiladas, but you can easily fit 14 enchiladas by making two rows arranged crosswise in the dish. After doubling the recipe, I was able to use one 9 x 13 inch dish to hold 14 enchiladas and another smaller baking dish to hold an additional 6 enchiladas.
  • The recipe ingredient list calls for roasted poblanos, but then only talks about roasting the tomatillos and serrano chiles under the broiler (I've never seen jarred roasted poblanos). Assuming you buy fresh poblanos, you can "roast" them alongside the tomatillos and chiles. I prefer using the sear burner of our grill rather than the broiler, and then tossing them in a paper or plastic bag to steam for about 10 minutes before easily removing the blackened skins.
  • The serrano chiles are stemmed but not seeded, which gives the sauce a nice heat. I didn't feel the sauce was overpowering at all, because of the sour cream and tomatillos, but if you're a wimp when it comes to spicy food, scrape the seeds out of the serranos take before throwing them in the blender.
  • The recipe recommends serving the enchiladas with plenty of sauce, but there isn't any sauce left over after being instructed to "pour remaining sauce" over the enchiladas before baking. The enchiladas do have a tendency to absorb the sauce during baking and a little extra would have been nice. However, they were extremely flavorful and moist when they came out of the oven. If you want to end up with some extra sauce, make one 9 x 13" pan of enchiladas (14-16) and then reserve a cup of sauce before pouring "remaining" sauce over the enchiladas before baking.
  • I served the enchiladas with Arroz a la Mexican - Mexican-style red rice (Saveur recipe)
Bright green tomatillos with their interesting paper-like husks

Roasted Poblanos

Roasting the tomatillos and serranos

Enchiladas Suizas with Mexican Red Rice

Enchiladas Suizas (Chicken Enchiladas in Tomatillo-Cream Sauce)
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 10

3 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed
4 serrano chiles (stemmed but not seeded)
2 cups roughly chopped cilantro
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground (toast them in a little saute pan until fragrant and then grind in a spice grinder)
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 poblano chiles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
20 6" corn tortillas (we prefer yellow corn tortillas)
1 1/2 cups safflower oil or canola oil for frying tortillas
6 cups cooked shredded chicken (from 1 large roasted chicken)
3 cups crumbled queso fresco cheese

Arrange an oven rack 4" from the broiler and heat broiler to high. Place tomatillos, serranos and poblanos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and then peel and discard skins (Again, I prefer to blacken the chiles and tomatillos on the grill - I also remove and discard the core of the tomatillos).

Transfer tomatillos and chiles to a blender along with cilantro, sour cream, cumin, garlic, and 1 1/2 cups boiling water; season with salt and pepper, and purée until smooth (you may need to do this in two batches). Set enchilada sauce aside.

Place shredded chicken in a bowl and toss with 2 cups enchilada sauce until evenly coated.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, grasp tortillas with tongs and fry in oil until pliable, about 1 minute. Transfer tortillas to a work surface. Divide sauced chicken evenly among tortillas, and roll tortillas tightly around chicken. Pour about 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, and place tortilla rolls in dish, seam side down, in two rows. Repeat with a second, smaller dish for the 6 enchiladas, adjusting the quantity of the sauce accordingly. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolls, and cover evenly with cheese.

Bake enchiladas until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted on top, 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes.


Coronado Breeze Cocktail
Adapted from Grey Goose Lakeshore Punch
(Makes about 10 cocktails)

2 ½ cups pear vodka (Grey Goose or Absolut)
2 cups pear nectar (such as Kerns)
1 ½ cups St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ large cucumber
½ bunch fresh mint (plus more for garnish)
1 cup water
1 lime to make twists
Garnish: Mint sprigs and lime twists

Mint Water: Combine 1 cup water with ½ bunch fresh mint in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and let macerate for 10 minutes. Strain and allow strained mint water to cool.

Cocktail: Cut the cucumber into thin slices and place in pitcher. Add vodka, pear nectar, Elderflower liqueur, lime juice and mint water. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Pour into lowball glasses filled with ice. Garnish with cucumber slices from the pitcher, fresh mint and a lime twist.

Trapper and his Squirrel-Cat


A Couple in the Kitchen said...

This post has us drooling. Definitely trying that Coronado Breeze Cocktail, though!

Annie K. said...

I stumbled on your post AFTER I put these guys in the oven. I agree it would have been smart to double the recipe and maybe even freeze the extra 8 for a lazy dinner in the future. I'm a bit of a wimp yet threw the entire serrano in, but I also accidentally dumped all of the cheese into the sauce as well, which helped mellow the heat a little.

I only cooked them for about 18 minutes in the oven, because the cheese on top was melted and the sauce was bubbling, and I was afraid of them falling apart. My husband was delighted, and we both battled with the impulse to keep eating even though we were so full. That said, not sure I will make these again due to the time commitment.

Elizabeth said...

I just made these enchiladas from Saveur as well. Mine looked just like your picture, and nothing like the one on their site! I reserved about a cup and a half of the sauce before baking, and served it alongside. It had a slightly different flavor since it wasn't baked with the rest of it. Overall, I thought these were really good and would make again!