Wednesday, February 03, 2010

a note about tortillas and mexican food

Typically I buy flour tortillas. They're easier to work with for the standard americanized quesadilla or burrito -- not to mention that there's something about the texture that the kids prefer. It amuses me that we've worked in the quesadilla to our standard kid rotation. Sometimes I'll even make a quick one in the morning to put in the lunchboxes. It's a mutant of the classic grilled cheese that I grew up with. Grilled cheese is still preferred by me, unless of course the quesadilla is filled with roasted veggies or the like.

This week I found myself with dozens more tortillas than we could ever get through. They were leftover from Saturday night's mexican fiesta. The menu for the evening was upscale tacos; three different meats, niman ranch flank steak, pork butt, bell & evans chicken breast each prepared with their own sauces, chimichurri, coco adobo, and roasted tomatillo salsa.

The food was great, but what I'm blogging about tonight is the leftover corn tortillas made by Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory. Not what we typically use for the every day breakfast burrito. They're more brittle than the flour counterpart. We could stretch ourselves, sure, but there were so so many. What to do...

Another mexican family favorite around here is the enchilada. Shredded meat (for simplicity's sake use a rotisserie chicken), rolled in a tortilla covered with enchilada sauce, a tomato based chili pepper sauce. It's a great family meal because it can be made earlier in the day and then baked later.

Finally to the point. If you make enchiladas (or even a layered mexican lasagna) with flour tortillas, consider switching to corn. Instead of turning into a gloppy mess which tends to happen with the flour tortillas, the corn absorbs the liquid from the enchilada sauce. It turns into a distinctly different product, filling in the gaps between the meat and sauce, taking on the consistency of the masa in a tamale.

This what I decided to do with the leftovers - enchiladas. Shred the remaining meat mix it with a touch of the sauce, roll it up in the tortillas, cover it with the homemade enchilada sauce (recipe below), top it with sharp cheddar and bake for 25 minutes.

However tasty they might be, they do not photograph well. I tried, and it looked more like something that came up, instead of something about to go down.

Enchilada sauce
according to Mark Bittman, The Best Recipes of the World, page 325

5 garlic cloves
1 onion peeled and quartered
4 tomatoes cores and quartered
6 dried chiles stemmed and seeded (I used one canned chipotle pepper and 2 tbsp adobo)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (I used 1tbsp seeds)
1 quart chicken stock
kosher salt and pepper

Saute cumin seed, garlic and onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and chiles and cook until tomatoes have softened the chiles, another 5 min. Transfer mixter to a blender and blend until smooth, adding sufficient stock to make a loose but still creamy mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.


MamaTina said...

Both corn and flour tortillas freeze well. Quesadillas are a family favorite around here, too. We normally make our corn tortillas and buy our flour, but I just found an excellent flour recipe, so we might be making both from now on. We eat a lot of Tex-Mex. Tomorrow is chicken enchilada soup which uses up corn tortillas

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