chicago throwdown

April 24th, 2016

Relocating to the Chicago area on New Year’s Eve was neither welcome nor fun, but the job that was its impetus had potential. There are no oceans, no mountains, and no mature trees. It’s a flat parking lot with gale force winds that keep debris airborne. The food markets, however, are outstanding and easily surpass anything in California, New York, North Carolina, and Europe.

The folks I work with are talented, collaborative and hospitable. Another rarity! Thus, I couldn’t remain grumpy for long with superior food and people in the midst. There’s a large population of gourmands at work and many meetings either begin or end with some reference to recipes. My cohort, Marcelo, and I were chatting about Italian smoked meats one morning in the office galley and within no time we’d agreed to do a cooking throwdown.

Marcelo chose Chicken Enchiladas Suizas as the competitive dish, something I’d neither eaten nor cooked. Fine by me! There were dozens of details to iron out and it was decided that our software teams would be the eaters and the judges. The Enchilada entree was rounded out with Guacamole, Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Ensalada Verde with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, Puerto Rican Rice and Beans, and Mexican Wedding Cookies, all of which needed to be transported to work, baked off and/or assembled prior to serving 18 hungry guests.

Debbie and Charles helped to set and decorate the long table. The Enchiladas came straight from the cafeteria oven, piping hot, and got their final garnishes. The guests arrived promptly and were served with remarkable speed. Silence prevailed as people began eating and it seemed to be an appreciative silence. All of the plates were clean 20 minutes later, which suggest proper table manners or tasty-tasty food or both! The ballots were tallied, and Marcelo was the winner by a wide margin. A loss for me that I couldn’t have enjoyed more!

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Related Recipes

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

  • 1 1⁄2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup Mexican Crema (or sour cream)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Aged Oaxaca cheese (or Monterey Jack)
  • ¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8  corn tortillas
  • Sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and extra crema, as garnish

Arrange an oven rack 4″ from the broiler and heat broiler to high. Place tomatillos and chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and then peel and discard skins. Transfer to a blender along with cilantro, sour cream, cumin, garlic, and 1 cup hot water. Season with salt and pepper, and purée until smooth. Set aside.

Place chicken and ¾ cup cheese in a bowl and toss with 1 cup enchilada sauce.

Heat oil in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas, one at a time, for 10 seconds, turning once, until pliable. Transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan. Divide sauced chicken evenly among tortillas, and roll tortillas tightly around chicken. Pour about 1/2 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, and place tortilla rolls in dish, seam side down, creating two rows of four. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolls, and cover evenly with remaining Oaxaca and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Heat oven to 350°. Bake enchiladas until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted on top, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and scatter garnishes over the top. Serve any remaining sauce on the side.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.