Kitchen Fun: Enchil-yada-yadas


The Electrican and I are invited to a Mexican-themed potluck birthday party and (controlled, fire-ban regulation adherent) backyard bonfire later tonight. I am seriously hoping for a piñata. We’ve been asked to bring a Mexican dish, and since I’m not up too much on my authentic Mexican cookery, I’m going to make (up) a dish that is sorta, kinda southwest. Let’s call them “enchil-yada-yadas,” since I’m sure they are not an accurately cultural dish and I’m sort of throwing them together.

Hey, I grew up in a small prairie town where the closest thing I got to ethnic food was the pineapple chicken balls at the Twin Dragon restaurant. Cut me a little slack. I’m doing the best I can here, plus, I’m not a spicy-spicy food lady, so I need to tone it down for the sake of my large intestine and the lovely person who lives in my basement.

By some cruel twist of architecture, my bathroom is directly over the kitchen in the basement suite. When this renovation is finished, I want a fan loud enough to drown out everything.

I have some pork chops that need cooking, so these will be a pork-based dish.

You’re Gonna Need:

lean pork chops (I’m using four mid-sized ones)

a big can of diced tomatoes

a little can of tomato paste

onion

garlic

cumin

cayenne powder

papaya powder (it’s a fabulous meat tenderizer with zero MSG)

salt and pepper

sour cream

softened cream cheese

a can of baked beans (I think I shall use maple)

green onions

large flour or corn tortillas

a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar, the older the better

To start, drain the tomatoes into a frying pan with a tight-fitting lid. When I checked out “real” enchiladas at some cooking websites, all the other cooks recommended cooking a pork roast in the crock pot, and then shredding the leftovers the next day to use in the enchilada recipe. I decided to make these bad boys about six hours before the party, so I was at least a whole day late on the leftover crockpot meal business. Oops. As always, hang on to your knickers, Nessie: we’re gonna improvise.

Add water to roughly equal the tomato juice in your pan, and put it on medium-low while you smash and mince four cloves of garlic. Pop the garlic into the pan, and slice half an onion very thinly. I like long, skinny slivers of onions, so I’m not going to go all instructional video on you folks about the best way to dice your onion. Just slice that sucker up, and watch your fingers around the blade. Add the onions and mix the whole shebang up.

Lots and lots of onion. Mmmm.

Now, things are going to get spicy. Add a good palmful of cumin to the mix, and a couple shakes of cayenne pepper. If you wanted to, feel free to add some chopped chilies at this point. I abstain from chiles: they terrify me. Stir it all in and turn the heat to low. Sprinkle in some papaya powder to help the pork tenderize. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t get too excited with that stuff.

Zing!

Lay the porkchops on top of the other ingredients and put the lid on: leave all this deliciousness to steam for a little bit. Remember to leave the salt for the end of the cooking; if you add it now the pork will get tough.  Open your windows and make your neighbours wonder what amazing dish you’re building today. After about 20 minutes, spoon the sauce over the pork and keep basting it every 20 minutes. Let it rock out in there for a couple hours, or until the pork is starting to fall apart at the seams.

Leave it on top to steam for a bit before you bury it in spicy goodness.

I was feeling so proud of myself, making this lovely homemade dish for the little party tonight, and looking forward to unwrapping my casserole dish full of quasi-Mexican goodness. While my porkchops were simmering lightly, I barbecued the rest of the package of meat and made some rice and a salad for a lunch for me and The Electrician. Before we ate, I added a big slop of water to the tomato sauce in the frying pan to keep things moist and happy.

After lunch, I went back to the kitchen, and something smelled a little off. It was my freaking porkchops! My stove is so old that it was produced when almond coloured appliances were at the height of fashion. Unfortunately, it still believes it’s wonderful. The oven holds a decent temperature, as long as I watch the back left corner, but the stupid large burner, the only larger burner, on the cooktop likes to surprise me with a swift change in temperature from time to time. I left the pan on lower than low (seriously, with the knob not even turned to “min”) but the stove decided it would rather sear things on full-tilt boogie. I need a new stove, or a horde of ninjas to terrify this one into better behavior.

My sauce had dried up and was burning rapidly, and the porkchops were in grave, grave danger. I didn’t photograph this part for your because I believe sending pictures of tragedy out into the big world only fuels more pain. As I stated earlier, I am on a tight timeline for this recipe. Crap, crud, and poop on a stick.

Although a little dark on the bottom, the pork wasn’t actually burned, so I could continue on with it as I’d planned. I let it cool a bit, and then tore it apart with two forks until it was nicely shredded. Try to avoid too fine a shred here: we want a pulled-pork effect, not a dish with a filling that resembles high-end cat food.

“New in Canada, Fancy Feast fiesta flavoured pork delight. Sure to give your furry friend a little spice in her life and the runs in her litterbox.” Uh, no.

Pork and a fork. Where's the Swedish Chef when I need him?

After the pork is nicely shredded, I needed to do something about the sauce, which was not even a sauce anymore, just a pathetic, dry and deeply scorched desert in the bottom on the pan. Sigh. I had such high hopes.

I basically ended up redoing the steps before adding the pork at the beginning of this how-to, only this time I used the whole can of tomatoes, chunks and all and kept the pork out of it. Chances are your stove isn’t plotting your culinary demise, so you can just lift the pork out of the pan and dump the diced tomatoes we reserved earlier in there, as well as the tomato paste, and a couple splashes of water. Let it cook for a bit and try to avoid being like me.

While my mulligan sauce was cooking down a bit, I whooped the brick of cream cheese in my stand mixer, and added a couple dollops of sour cream. It ended up being about a 4-1 ratio. Crack in one large egg and blend it until smooth. Add a couple dozen cranks of black pepper and three pinches of salt before adding a good handful of green onions. I’m using the green onion I found growing in my yard. Actually, I’m just hoping it’s onion: it looks and smells like onion, but I didn’t plant it so I’m not entirely sure. Mix it all at a lowish speed until it’s well-distributed.

Open up your can of beans (cue the magical fruit song) and dump them into a bowl. Mash them with a fork until they’re almost, but not quite, broken up. Add the beans to the pork and stir it all up. Ladle in one slop of the tomato sauce and stir it up before letting it cool down. While you’ve got your ladle hopping, add two ladles of tomato sauce to your big lasagna pan and spread it around. Start getting excited for how nummy this is going to be.

I artfully hid the dirty dishes in this shot: well done, me!

Now for the fun: assembly makes me feel so accomplished! Lay out one tortilla on a cutting board or something flat that’s easy to wash. Run a generous spread of your cream cheese mixture down the center of the tortilla, and then follow that run up with a few generous forkfuls of the pork and bean stuff.

Oh, are things getting tasty in here.
Are you excited yet? I'm plenty excited.

Starting away from you, gently roll the tortilla around the filling, ending with the seam down. Since I’m taking these beauties to a potluck, I cut each tortilla into four or five pieces.

Snuggle them up in there: tortillas like to be cosy.

Arrange the tortilla rolls tightly together in the pan, and then spread the remaining tomato sauce over top of the works. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top, then pop the whole enchilada (yes, I’ve been waiting to use that line the whole I’ve been building this post) into the oven at 300ish for about 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling in the middle.

Driving to the party with these smelling up the car was torture.

Post party report: The enchil-yada-yadas were yummy! They were just a little bit kicky and had a nice bit of sweetness from the baked beans. I sincerely recommend you make these puppies at your house: you won’t be sorry.

Come by again tomorrow! I’ll be waiting for your visit.

copyright 2011:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

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