Mexican food is highly recyclable. When I made enchiladas on Thursday, I had no idea that I was going to reuse the ingredients and left overs for three separate meals and dishes. I made chicken tacos with the left over ingredients for lunch on Friday, and Huevos Rancheros for breakfast Saturday. Mexican food is also great because the ingredients are fairly cheap, and almost all dishes use very similar ingredients to vastly different outcome.

The main dish I made Thursday night was Enchiladas Suizas, where Suizas is Spanish for “Swiss”. The dish is derived from Swiss immigrants in Mexico who started dairy farms to produce cream and cheese, and the Enchiladas are topped with a white, milk, or cream based sauce. I used Mexican Quesadilla cheese Cotija cheese. I picked a Rick Bayless Recipe to cook.

To start with, I made the basic roasted tomato sauce that is used on the bottom and top of the Enchiladas. Some plum tomatoes and Jalapenos are broiled for 10 minutes in the oven, turning half way through. You want to get the charred skin to get the roasted flavor.

The tomatoes are blended with the Jalapeno to make the basic sauce. You should seed the Jalapeno if you don’t like the sauce to be spicy.

Then some onions are browned in a sauce pan, and the tomato puree added to the pan and cooked until the color turn slightly darker and the sauce is thickened. This can take up to 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the heat.

After the sauce is properly thickened, chicken stock is added and simmered for another 10-15 minutes, for the flavors to blend. You should taste and season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper at this point. To finish up the sauce, I stirred in some sour cream into the sauce. The recipe called for Mexican crema or Creme Fraiche, but sour cream will also work (and it’s cheaper).

For the filling, I used store-bought rotisserie chicken, shredded by hand, with some sauce added to the chicken before assembly.

To prepare the Enchiladas, you also need to soften up the corn tortillas. I dislike frying the tortillas in oil since it’s not healthy, and I always feel like I’m wasting oil. The recipe provided a really great substitute way to soften up the tortillas. You simply spray the tortillas on both sides with PAM or some sort of oil spray, then stick them in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, until they are softened. It’s quick, healthy, and saves the mess of frying tortillas.

When you are ready to assemble the dish, the sauce is first ladled to the bottom of a baking dish.

Then the rolled enchiladas are placed in a tight row in the dish.

The enchiladas are topped with the remaining tomato sauce, and both Quesadilla and Cotija cheese.

The whole thing is baked in the oven until the cheese has melted and possibly browned. I actually broiled the dish for about 2 minutes near the end to add some nice brown color to the cheese. I also topped it with some cilantro.

To accompany the Enchiladas, I made Refried beans to go with it.

Refried beans are called that name because it’s cooked twice. The first time, dried pinto beans are cooked with water, epazote (a mexican herb), some bacon drippings (I used bacon lardons), and chopped onions.

The beans are simmered for about 2 hours until tender, and set aside. For the second time, some onions, jalapeno and garlic are sautéed until soft in a pot, then 1/3 of the undrained beans you want to cook is added to the pot.

The beans are then mashed in the pot until creamy, then a second batch of the beans are added to the pot, and mashed.

Then the process is repeated for the final 1/3 of the beans, adjusting the seasoning to taste. I topped the beans with some cilantro and Cotija cheese.

No Mexican meal is complete with out salsa. I made a Tomatillo Avocado salsa and a roasted poblano pepper, tomato salsa, both were fast and easy to make.

For the Tomatillo Avocado Salsa, I blended together, Tomatillos, Avocados, white onions, cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos together.

The salsa is good a couple of days in advance.

For the Roasted Poblano Pepper/Tomato Salsa, I first roasted some Poblano peppers directly on my gas stove top.

Then I skinned and blended the roasted pepper with some canned tomatoes, onions, cilantro and garlic.

The salsa can be made a day in advance.

The final dish I made to go with the meal is Mexican Esquites Corn. Esquites is a roasted corn dish often times sold on the street corners. Basically you roast corn on the cob until blackened, then cut off the kernels and cook them up with some onions and fresh corn. They are fairly close to their on-the-cob counterparts, the Elote.

I roasted the corn on my kitchen gas stove top directly. Then I cut the kernels off after letting them cool off for a bit.

Then I cooked up some onions and fresh corn kernels until softened and tender, and added the roasted corn to the pan. The dish is finished with salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lime. Some chopped epazote is added at the end but is optional.

Esquites Corn Recipe: http://nymag.com/listings/recipe/esquites/
Enchiladas Suizas Recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/creamy-enchiladas-with-chicken-tomatoes-and-green-chile
Roasted Poblano-Tomato Salsa Recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/roasted-poblano-tomato-salsa-with-marjoram
Avocado Tomatillo Salsa: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Avocado-and-Tomatillo-Salsa-108062

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