Sopa de poro y papa

I don’t know what it is about fall that makes me want to eat nothing but soup. I’d say it’s the chill in the air, but since we had an unusually warm beginning to October in Chicago like I mentioned last week, I know that can’t be the only factor. Come the beginning of fall, like clockwork, I always want to eat soup for lunch and dinner almost every single day. Now that the weather is cooling off, I have an entire page-long list of all the soups I want to make at home.

This particular recipe is one I’ve eaten many times in Mexico and I consider it to be a comfort food. During my visit to Mexico City last month, Luci, the family cook, made this as a first course for lunch on a chilly and gloomy afternoon and it was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.

When I returned to Chicago, I was really missing our family so I decided to make this soup to cheer myself up. The truth is, there’s something about making recipes that I’ve eaten in Mexico that makes Chicago seem like it’s not so far away from the people and places I love in Mexico. Before the soup was even finished cooking, José said, “huele a mi casa.” (Translation: “It smells like my house.”) There are few compliments that warm my heart more, and I was feeling a little better already…. 

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Papas gratinadas

To me, wintertime means lots of comfort foods. And pardon the pun, but during the blizzard we had here last week, I was cooking up a storm while I was cooped up inside for three whole days. One of my favorite comfort foods is papas gratinadas, a Mexican version of potatoes au gratin.

I love it so much, in fact, that while I’m writing this, I’m thinking about going to the store for more potatoes so I can make another batch. The last two times I’ve made this dish, it disappeared in less than 24 hours. And my friend Silvia over at Mamá Latina Tips has been asking me to post this recipe for several weeks since I told her I made it because her mom used to make papas gratinadas for her and it’s one of her favorites, too.

These are a great side dish (or, um…an afternoon snack) when you need hearty, warm food to keep you full and fueled to fight the cold outside. Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to make this recipe.

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CROCK-POT FRIJOLES DE OLLA

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I love, love, love the little community we’ve grown on our Facebook fan page. A week or two ago, I posted a question asking fans what their favorite Mexican recipes are that they’ve adapted for crock-pot cooking. Overwhelmed with the number of delicious suggestions, I decided to whip up a batch of slow-cooked frijoles as my final tribute to National Slow-Cooking Month. (Thanks to Tortilla fan Annette for giving us the basic cooking instructions she uses.)

The results were tremendous, so I recorded a video recipe to show you just how I did it. As we’re preparing for a blizzard here in Chicago this week, I’m glad to have leftovers of this hearty, warm bean dish that is great as a snack, a side dish, or a main dish…. 

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Back to basics with breakfast: avena y té de manzanilla

Since we’ve been back from Mexico, we’ve been very busy in the Tortilla Test Kitchen testing new recipes and having fun shooting new videos we’ll be sharing soon. But while we were in Mexico, we ate and ate…and ate and, well, you get the picture. I think I may have finally earned the affectionate nickname I’m sometimes called at home – Gordita, or Gordis, for short.

We decided we needed to bring a little order to our daily habits after eating to our hearts’ content for nearly a whole month. That’s not to say that healthy Mexican food doesn’t exist, because it definitely does and you will see more new examples of that on The Tortilla this year. However, it’s sometimes harder to make those healthy choices when most of the year I live in Chicago and can’t get some of my favorite Mexican foods.

It’s a bit like letting a kid loose in a candy store, only instead of a candy store, you’re dropping me off in a city full of taquerías that serve my favorite things like chicharrón de queso, tacos al pastor and Sidral Mundet apple-flavored soda. It’s hard to say no to all of that, knowing that in a short time, I’ll be back in Chicago without access to these things again until my next trip. There’s nothing wrong with eating or drinking all of those things if you do it in moderation, but sometimes we need a reminder that moderation is the key in order to stay healthy.

This year, we’ve decided to bring some good habits back from Mexico, such as eating breakfast daily. We started every day with a good breakfast during our visit and now I crave breakfast as soon as I wake up in the morning. In the past, I’ve been known to rush out the door in the morning without eating breakfast because I’m crunched for time, but I’m vowing to break that bad habit in 2011.

And for breakfast, there are so many healthy options. One of my suegro‘s favorites is avena con nueces o fruta y azúcar moreno, or oatmeal with nuts, fruit and a little brown sugar.  I’m a huge fan of oatmeal, but truth be told, I don’t like the instant stuff with the artificial flavors. Since I’m usually on the go in the morning during the week, I often have to prepare something the night before to take with me to assure that I get a good, healthy choice…. 

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ENCHILADAS VERDES

Last month at my cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio where I made chilaquiles, I talked about the versatility of salsa verde. I can think of about a dozen uses for this sauce just off the top of my head, so when I make it, I usually make extra so that I can get a few different meals out of it. One of my favorite things to make with salsa verde is enchiladas.

This recipe is so easy to make; great whether you need to feed just a few or a whole family. A few weeks ago, I made these enchiladas for my suegro and he ate three helpings! I laughed and asked him whether they were that good or if he was very hungry and as he was about to take another bite, he said “both!” These are also a favorite of José’s.

If you want to make these vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth in the salsa and fill them with cheese instead of chicken.

RECETA:

ENCHILADAS VERDES

FOR SALSA VERDE

  • A little over 1 pound of small tomatillos, husked & thoroughly washed
  • 3-5 serrano chiles (depending how spicy you like it), stems cut off and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 slices of white onion
  • A pinch or two of salt to taste
  • 1-1 ¼ cup chicken broth or water

FOR THE ENCHILADAS

  • 3 cups shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts and some dark meat)
  • 6-7 oz (about ¾ cup) of shredded Chihuahua cheese
  • ½ cup crema Mexicana
  • A dozen corn tortillas
  • Some canola oil for frying the tortillas

To make the salsa:

First, husk and wash the tomatillos. Rinse them well in cool water.

Fill a pot with water (large enough to fit all the tomatillos) and bring to a boil. Put the tomatillos in and cook in the boiling water until the tomatillo flesh begins to get transparent. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos to a blender. Add the onion, garlic and salt. Cut the stems off the serrano chiles and cut each chile into a few pieces so they’re easily chopped in the blender.

Start by adding 2 chiles to the blender with about ¾ of a cup of water or chicken broth and blend on high until smooth and the chiles and tomatillos are completely incorporated. Taste the salsa to see if it’s too hot; if it needs more chile, add them one at a time, blending & tasting the result until you are happy with the level of heat from the chiles. If it seems the salsa is not quite liquid enough, add another ¼ cup of water or chicken broth. The salsa will reduce slightly when cooked.

Pour blender contents into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the salsa boils, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat.

For more on salsa verde, visit my original post on the topic.

You can either make a bone-in chicken breast from scratch or use a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you’re short on time. For bone-in chicken breast and chicken stock, you can just gently boil the chicken on the stove with a pinch or two of salt, a slice of onion and a small spring of cilantro or a few epazote leaves until the meat is cooked through. If you use a rotisserie chicken, buy one that’s low-sodium or barely seasoned. You can pour the juices from the container into a saucepan with a few cups of water and a chicken leg or two.

To make the enchiladas:

Preheat the oven to 350º F (177º C).

Heat a little bit of oil in a frying pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and lightly fry both sides of the tortilla. Each side will dome up when it’s ready to be turned. Drain on paper towels. Put a bit of the shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla and add a generous pinch of the shredded Chihuahua cheese. Roll them up and place seam-side down in a baking dish.

Spread the crema liberally over the top of the enchiladas and then ladle some salsa over them. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and heat in the oven at 350º for 8-10 minutes to heat through. Then move to the top rack and broil on low until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly, with some brown spots. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer enchiladas to plates and finish with some extra salsa on top.

Yields 12 enchiladas. There will be some leftover salsa.

  • How do you like your enchiladas?

CHILAQUILES VERDES

Chilaquiles are a staple in my house – great for any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner. When making them for breakfast, I serve an egg (fried or scrambled) on top; for lunch and dinner I usually add shredded chicken, but that can be left out if you’re serving it to a vegetarian. Whenever I go to a potluck dinner or any kind of event where I have to bring a dish, this is my tried and true recipe that always disappears quickly once served and the guests always end up calling me for the recipe the day after. And, ahem… chilaquiles are also known as the quintessential Mexican cure for a hangover.

Chilaquiles verdes #recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com #mexicanfood #comidamexicana

This past weekend I made my famous chilaquiles verdes for my Salsa Showdown cooking show at the Kenmore Live Studio and they were a huge hit. The video of the show will be available soon, but I’ve already gotten dozens of requests to post the recipe! A lot of people from the audience came up to me after the show to say that they were impressed with not only the taste of the dish, but also how simple it was to prepare and that they felt confident they could make it at home. That’s always my goal here ­– to teach you recipes and break them down so you feel comfortable making them on your own. I hope you’ll try my chilaquiles, and if you do, please leave a comment below to let me know how you liked them!

One of the great things about the salsa verde for my chilaquiles is that it’s a very versatile salsa that can also be used for enchiladas as well as a few other dishes. Be sure to check back later this week for my recipe for enchiladas verdes…. 

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