Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not that kind of miracle

I don't think I've ever posted a recipe, but my daughter often blogs about cooking and baking so yesterday, when we decided to make enchiladas out of the chicken I was thawing, she pulled out her camera and started taking the pictures she'd need for her Miracle Method Enchiladas post.   There are innumerable enchilada recipes and you probably have your favorite but I'll bet you haven't made them like this.

Ingredients with a monkey, a dinosaur and assorted Mexican wrestlers.  Bonus!

As the sous chef  I decided to chop the cilantro using Lillian's new herb scissors--or as they are now known, the Edward Scissorhands Special Chiffonade Implement of Mutilation.  I'm clever enough to use regular kitchen shears to chop herbs but was no match for this multiple-scalpel tool, and almost immediately julienned my middle finger, including the nail.

Didn't believe me, did you?

Just give me a moment

In honor of my blood sacrifice and close encounter with nine-fingeredness, Lillian decided that I deserved to write the enchilada post.  (She also thoughtfully squashed an enormous speedy beetle in my room last night just before he galloped under my bed and prevented peaceful slumber; garnering herself favorite child status.)

My brother Patrick (all my siblings are wonderful and inventive cooks) came up with these enchiladas with his son Nathan, and he made them for us one year at our annual ski-n-gorge in Reno.  The kicker is that you may use your favorite recipe and this will still work.  I used a slapdash combination of two I had in my file.  All measurements are approximate, but it made enough to match up with one package of tortillas, which will fill one big or two small pans:

Three boneless chicken thighs (just because I freeze them three to a ziplock bag)
1 double handful of yellow onion, chopped (I chop and freeze several onions at a time, don't you?)
2 to 4 chopped garlic cloves.  You know, some.
1 can tomato sauce (not pictured)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can olives, drained (Green Ripe olives are heavenly, but black are far easier to find)
1 can of refried beans (I used refried black beans, because I had them). Or use whole beans.
1/2 to 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (Better Than Boullion concentrate is my favorite, but apparently not enough to get in the picture)
a big handful of chopped fresh cilantro (be extremely careful.  I'm just saying)
some chopped fresh basil, if you can get it (see precautions above)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
A pinch smoked paprika  (I just discovered this and like it a lot.)
A medium sized jar of your favorite salsa, I like Pace Mild
1 pound of cheese, I used 1/2 sharp cheddar and 1/2 jack, chopped up into chunks
About ten medium size tortillas

Few things look less appetizing than raw chicken floating in cold water

Simmer the chicken thighs in a large pot about 15 minutes, drain and shred with two forks.  When that's done, soften the onion over medium heat in the same pot.  No photo of that.

Look out, here comes the Miracle!  Dump everything else, and the chicken, and yes even the cheese, back into the pot.  Heat until the cheese is all melted and it looks like soup.

I know, right?

While that's going on, wrap the tortillas in a clean towel, splash a little water on it, and microwave  a minute or two.  They will be steamy and soft.  Frying the tortillas is a big old nuisance, but if you really prefer how they taste, fine.  Make a hot greasy mess.   Next, oil your favorite enchilada pan (I prefer two smaller pans so I can freeze one and we won't get tired of eating enchiladas for three days.)

Oh, settle down.  That's sauce splashed on the wall.

Put a large bowl in the sink, place your big colander on top (over your wire rack if the colander wants to fall down into the bowl), and pour about half the pot of chicken soup into the colander.  Stir with a wooden spoon as most of the liquid drains into the bowl, then pour in the rest and stir some more, until it's mostly done dripping.  (Mmmmm...sounds enticing.)

That's a giant wad of paper towels in my glove.  You're welcome.

Like so

Spread some newspapers on the counter, which I usually do when I cook but forgot this time  (I was still wobbly from the slasher interlude.)  One at a time on a large plate, spoon about 3/4 cup filling onto a tortilla, roll it up and plop it into the pan.  If you are lucky, it will be about the right amount for ten tortillas.  Then, slosh the drained liquid over the pan of rolled up enchiladas, coating each one.  Don't worry about how marshy they look--it soaks up as they cook.  Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes until the tops look a bit brown.  The sauce will set up a bit more while you chop the avocado and get out the sour cream.  Throw away those  newspapers. (Whoa!  Clean counters!  After you made enchiladas!) I had to wash mine, once after the cilantro incident and again after the pans went in the oven.  There's no way to avoid at least a little mess.

And there they are


Would you ever have thought you could melt the cheese in with everything else?  Your favorite ingredients will be even better than ever made this way and aside from the draining step, the whole process is simpler and makes less of a mess than the usual method of assembly.  Try this out next time you make enchiladas and see if I'm right.

If you're at least my age, you will need a Tums later because tomato sauce gives you heartburn, doesn't it?   But you're probably familiar with that.  If you are younger than I am, be patient.  Someday you'll have to keep Tums in the cupboard, too.

Anyway today my poor middle finger looks I flipped off an aquarium full of piranhas, but half-hearted not really hungry piranhas.  I found some steri-strips and taped the flappy edges together and wrapped a bandaid on top.  I hate wearing a bandaid on my hand because every time I wash, which is more often than I realized, I have to get a dry bandaid.  Fortunately at my former blood banking job I was given a giant box of premium  bandaids that have GIVE printed on them, so I have plenty (although not the waterproof kind).   I wish I'd stolen  been given more latex gloves though; mine are almost gone.

My restaurant post ended in heartache and my cooking post was gory.  I might have to go back to documenting home-improvement  adventures.


  1. You're absolutely POSITIVE you didn't season this dish "special?" That's some wound! Enchiladas with ACTION, baby!

    That's my Zombie "the other gray meat" picture! OMG! I"m so farking flattered!
    (unless I accidentally saw it somewhere else and ... no. that's mine)

    Also, you cook like I do. With occasional near-death/dismemberments. Awesome!