I recently wandered to my local library and saw Rick Bayless’ Fiesta at Rick’s at their new arrival section. I love being able to “test-drive” a cookbook prior to purchasing; and have had great luck that way. Mexican meal is something that I don’t normally cook at home; I think it’s just because I just didn’t really grow up eating it and am not familiar with the type of spices or ingredients used. I watched Rick Bayless compete at last season’s Top Chef and became fan with some of the meals that he cooked during the show; however I was a little bit hesitant with the complexity of the recipes. I was really surprised when I found myself bookmarking several of his recipes, and this was one of them!
The smokiness of root vegetables roasted at high heat were so wonderful combined with the bright and creamy tomatillo sauce. This dish was so delicious that I ended up making it twice two weeks in a row. I used carrots and butternut squash because that’s what I had in hand, and loved the sweetness from the two vegetables against the other earthy flavors. What I also love about this dish was that I only assemble what Red and I would have at one meal; and leave the rest of the ingredients in the refrigerator for the next day. That way the vegetables or the corn tortilla don’t turn mushy. I have since then tried several other of his recipes-so be in the lookout for future posts of Rick’s delicious dishes. Happy eating!
Adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s
1 lb (6-8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (2-3 serranos, 1 or 2 jalapenos), stemmed
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting the vegetables and brushing or spraying the tortillas
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
1/2 cup Mexican crema (that’s what I used), creme fraiche, or heavy (whipping) cream
8 cups of cubed vegetables (1/2-inch cubes), such as chayote, carrots, white/red onions, small turnips, kohlrabi, mushrooms and peeled butternut squash
12 corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese, or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A few sliced rounds of white onion, separated into rings, for garnish
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
Sauce (The sauce can be made ahead, and then refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the dish)
Roast the tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet about 3-4 inches below the hot broiler. The tomatillos need to be soft and blotchy black on one side, about 4-5 minutes. Turn everything over and then roast the other side. After these are finished, turn oven down to 400 degrees.
Transfer all of the vegetables roasted into a blender or food processor, and blend into a smooth puree consistency. Heat 1-1/2 tbs of oil in a medium to large pot over medium high heat, and add all of the puree at once. Stir constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker, make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add broth and crema, and reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
Spread all of the cubed vegetables into a single-layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mix with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Stir regularly until carrots are crunchy, approximately 25-30 minutes.
Once the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little bit more of the broth or water. Taste and season with salt (approximately 1 tsp). Lightly brush or spray both sides of corn tortillas with oil. Slide into a plastic bag and microwave on high for 1 minute to warm and soften (for easier rolling).
Smear a few tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Working quickly, fill each tortilla with about 1 cup of roasted vegetables. Line the rolled tortillas up on a baking dish, with seams side down. Douse with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until enchiladas are heated through (the cheese will begin to melt and brown), about 10 minutes. Garnish, and serve quickly. Best served right out of the oven.
Yield: 4-6 servings