Comfort Food From Mexico

I am missing my hacienda in San Antonio and the spicy smell of the pantry which came from over eighty years of housing my great-grandmother and grandmother’s ceramic jars of dried beans, corn husks, assorted spices and chilies.

Now working and living on the East Coast, I am craving those smells and the soulful vibe that was left behind by those lovely Mexican ladies who taught me so much about life. Their subtle lessons about how personal strength and stamina carries one through the most challenging of times and offers the chance to reinvent ourselves any second of the day or night, allowing us the choice to become a kinder, more compassionate, loving person at any given moment. Life lessons that are serving me well.

Now, as I meander my way through my journey, I find my life is touched by the most fascinating situations and characters, and I wonder where, if anyplace, it all leads to. Staying present, putting one foot in front of the other, without ever compromising my integrity, that is how I try to travel through this adventure.

Joseph Campbell said,” Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”. Words I am finding to be so true.

Still, I’m hungry and some Mexican comfort food and a cool Margarita goes a long way comfort the appetite and soul.

ROASTED CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH ROASTED TOMATILLO SAUCE

For the roasted tomatillo sauce:

INGREDIENTS
5-6 tomatillos
1 jalapeño chile
Small handful of fresh cilantro (about ¼ cup, chopped)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock

DIRECTIONS
Place the tomatillos and  jalapeño on a foil lined baking sheet and roast under the broiler for approximately 5 minutes until blackened and then flip and roast for another 5 minutes or so. Split the jalapeño lengthwise and remove the seeds. Put the jalapeño (use only one half of the chile for a milder sauce), tomatillos, their juices and the cilantro into a food processor and puree until smooth.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic until softened, 5- 8 minutes. Pour tomatillo and cilantro puree into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chicken or vegetable stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the roasted chicken enchiladas:

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds roasted chicken, skin removed and shredded (I use a store bought rotisserie chicken to keep it easy)
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (from a store bought packet)
½ medium red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed (optional)
½ -1 pablano pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped (half of the pepper adds enough kick for me, but if you like it spicier, you can add the whole pablano)
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
6-8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
½ cup Queso Fresco or Panela cheese
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, scallions, tomatoes, guacamole

DIRECTIONS
Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until tender. Add the chicken, corn, and chilies. Sprinkle on the taco seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, stir and sauté for a few minutes, reducing most of the liquid.

Heat tortillas over a flame if you have a gas stove or warm in a microwave for a few seconds to soften. Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch pan with a ladle of tomatillo sauce. Spoon approximately 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla; sprinkle with a bit of cheddar and Jack cheeses. Roll up tortillas, placing enchiladas in the pan with seam side down. Top with remaining roasted tomatillo sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese (Cheddar, Jack and Queso Fresco).

Bake for 20-30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven, until cheese melts and sauce is bubbling. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans

Of course, no Mexican meal complete without a Margarita! Here is my brother’s famous recipe…

INGREDIENTS
2 shots of tequila
1 shot Cointreau
1 shot freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and lime wedge, to serve

DIRECTIONS
Put all the ingredients into a shaker. Shake well and serve in a martini glass with a salt rim and a split lime wedge.

One comment

  1. Thanks to my daughter in law, I shall not waste these beautiful tomatillos that have waited for me to create something wonderful with to eat rather than allow them to wither away in our sunroom. It is such an unexpected blessing to have Eva share her culinary skills and creativity as well as her life experiences with us all. Happy New Year for sure!!

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