Saturday, May 06, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #5: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Well the fifth installment of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge comes fast on the heels of the last one and like the last one is centered around a holiday: Cinco de Mayo. This was actually the most challenging one yet for me to find a recipe. In fact, this Challenge has exposed a missing link in my massive cookbook collection. I discovered while searching for a recipe to cook that I didn't have one single solitary cookbook devoted to cooking from south of the border.

Maybe this is because MBH doesn't like Mexican or Spanish influenced foods (with the exception of the pollo omeletto he had while in Peru). Or maybe because I have never lived in an area with a large concentration of really good Mexican restaurants. My first exposure to authentic Mexican food was about ten years ago when a friend took me to a basement restaurant located in Harvard Square. It was run by a couple from Guadalupe. It was there that I had my first Huraches (cheese stuffed Nopales). The restaurant made its own tortillas, sangria, and the most delicate mole sauce I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, they closed three years ago when the couple retired and their children didn't want to run the family business. The place is now what feels like the hundredth Indian restaurant in Harvard Square.

Failing to find a recipe in any cookbook for my beloved Huraches, I finally found a very small section in the "World-Wide Cooking" book from my 1964 McCall's Cookbook Collection. This cookbook is part of series that McCall (yes, the pattern people) put out in the middle sixties. It was a very popular collection that consisted of 20 paperback cookbooks devoted to a specific type of cooking. My mother had a complete collection she received as a wedding present. I loved looking at them as a child and would often "steal" a book or two to take home with me when I moved out on my own. When I turned twenty-five, my mother somehow located a a copy of the collection for me, complete with an intact plastic holder that was a bonus piece if you bought the collection as a whole when it was published. The "Cookie Book" is a fabulous treasury as is the "Meats Cookbook". I chose to adapt the recipe from the "World-Wide Cooking" for Beef Enchiladas using grilled chicken breast and rice since I wanted to use some leftovers from my refrigerator.

Grilled Chicken and Rice Enchiladas
(Adapted from the McCalls Cookbook Collection World-Wide Cooking book)

2 medium chicken breasts, grilled (seasoned with salt and pepper)
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 can fire roasted green chilies
1/2 cup shredded four cheese Mexican blend (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero and Queso Blanco Cheeses)

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
2 cans tomato sauce (10 oz cans)
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup boiling water
1/2 can fire roasted green chilies
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
dash pepper

1 pkg corn tortillas (really and truly, only use the corn ones!)
1 1/2 cup shredded four cheese Mexican blend

Prepare the filling:
Mix rice and salsa and set aside. Slice the chicken breasts into thin slices and set aside. Open can of chilies and bag of shredded cheese and set aside.

Prepare the sauce:
In large sauce pan, saute garlic and onion in oil. Remove from heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Stir in tomato sauce, vinegar. Dissolve bouillon cube in boiling water and stir into sauce. Return to heat and bring to boil. Add chilies, cumin, salt, and pepper; simmer, uncovered stirring occasionally. Add more cumin to taste as needed. When sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble enchiladas:
Place on paper towel lined plate, corn tortillas. Cover with paper towel and microwave for 30-40 seconds to soften. While the corn tortillas soften, take a ladle of sauce and coat the bottom of prepared (sprayed with cooking spray) large square or 13" x 9" glass baking dish. Working quickly, place a spoonful of rice mixture, a few slices of chicken breast, a "dab" of fire roasted green chilies, and a dusting of cheese in the center of each corn tortilla. Roll tortilla and place seam side down into baking dish. Repeat until all the filling is gone. Ladle sauce over assembled enchiladas and sprinkle with 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Make sure you cover the corn tortillas completely or the tortillas will bake hard. Bake for 25 minutes in 350 degree oven or until cheese is golden brown.