Green Chile Enchilada Casserole
NOW & THEN
When I was writing Now & Then, the main character Anna felt the sting of poverty and lack of food for the first time in her life. She had been transported to the past in 1844 Ireland and she was hungry a good part of the time. My dear character lost 15 pounds. Unfortunately, I gained ten while writing the book. Every time Anna dreamt of her favorite things to eat when she went to bed hungry, I went to the shops and bought pork chops, lovely cheeses, fresh bread and butter. As Anna got thinner, I got, well, no use mincing words here, more abundant.
My favorite thing about culinary arts is chopping with very sharp knives. My knives are not the best, but if I keep them sharp, they’re good enough. I love to see all of the ingredients arranged on the counter with chopping blocks at the ready, a glass of wine, music on the kitchen CD player, family or friends to keep me company, and if it was a perfect day, a fire burning in the fireplace.
Get ready, because I’m going to give away, for the first time, my favorite recipe. If you don’t like green chile sauce, stop reading. And if you don’t like chopping, move along. This recipe represents to me all that is good about the American Southwest, where I lived for five years. This recipe takes time, requires good music and people to eat it who will swear allegiance to you after tasting it. It’s that good.
Cooking is like conducting an orchestra. Once you get the swing of things, you can have several things cooking at the same time. But when you are trying a recipe for the first time, go slow. If you notice your jaws clenching, stop and take a few breaths, look out your window. Remember, you could be going to bed very hungry like Anna.
Green Chile Enchilada Casserole
Note: Wear plastic or rubber gloves while handling chiles to protect your skin from the oil in them. Avoid direct contact with your eyes and wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
12 green chiles (you might try Anaheim or poblano chiles for medium heat)
3 medium unpeeled red potatoes, scrubbed
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 large yellow onion
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1 package flour tortillas (about 10)
2 cups Green Chile Sauce (use prepared sauce or see recipe)
1. Roast the chiles over an open flame until tender and blackened on all sides. (Or, place the chiles on a broiling tray covered with foil and broil, turning occasionally, until skin is blackened and blistered on all sides.) Place chiles in a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove stems and peel off skin. Slice chiles lengthwise.
2. Wash potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces. Place in medium
saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer in water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain potatoes, and set aside.
3. Chop the onion and sauté in large frying pan with your favorite oil.
4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, add to frying pan, and cook lightly Add the potatoes to the pan, stir and remove from heat.
5. Pour another glass of wine, change the music on the CD player, and preheat the oven to 375°F.
6. Place a 9” x 12” casserole dish near the grated cheese, the stack of tortillas, the bowl of chiles, the sauce, and the onion, chicken, and potato mixture. With a ladle, spoon sauce on the bottom of the dish and spread to cover the dish.
7. Place a tortilla into the casserole dish and mound a small amount of the chicken mixture on the center of the tortilla. Add about 2 tablespoons of sauce, about a tablespoon of cheese, and a sliced roasted chile.
8. Fold the tortilla over an inch on either side, roll snugly, and push it to one end of the dish. Continue until the dish is filled with rolled tortillas. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the top, and any remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until the sauce and cheese bubble. Serve with a simple green salad.
Yield: 5-8 servings
Green Chile Sauce
Note: Wear plastic or rubber gloves while handling chiles to protect your skin from the oil in them. Avoid direct contact with your eyes and wash your hands thoroughly after handling
6 green chiles
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup beer (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. Roast the chiles over an open flame until tender and blackened on all sides. (Or, place the chiles on a broiling tray covered with foil and broil, turning occasionally, until skin is blackened and blistered on all sides.) Place jalapeños in a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove stems and peel off skin.
2. Place the chiles and 3 tablespoons of water into a blender and blend until smooth. Melt butter in a saucepan on low heat. Whisk in flour quickly. Gradually add milk and 1 cup water (or beer). Continue whisking until mixture thickens.
3. Add the blended chiles. Stir with a spoon until thoroughly mixed, and season with salt and pepper to taste.