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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Take Inspiration From Favorite Restaurants

I love Mexican food. And I don't mean Tex-Mex...and I certainly don't mean your friendly Taco Loco-stuff your face with something resembling a burrito and call it food. I mean the kind of stuff a Mexican grandma might make on a Sunday. True Mole. Tamales hand wrapped in corn husks and steamed on the premises. Shredded meat, slow cooked in sauce, and not a processed cheese in sight Mexican food.

There is a place in the small city of Canandaigua, NY that embodies this spirit. Great food, good drink (true margaritas-premium tequila and real lime juice), and a really fun atmosphere. It's the kind of place that every time I go there, I wish I had all their recipes. So I try to recreate them at home. I have come no where near any of their recipes, but I take inspiration. Tonight, I'm making enchiladas. And the inspiration I am taking from Rio Tomatlan is to make the sauce from scratch. That's right. That stuff in the can is not enchilada sauce. I'm making the real deal.

Red Enchilada Sauce:

1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large dried chile, whatever you like
1 128 oz. can crushed tomatoes (tried fire-roasted, if you can find it)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (you can use apple cider or white also)
1 Tbsp. Chipotle sauce (Tabasco makes a great one with no weird ingredients)
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. coriander seed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
salt & pepper

Begin by sweating the onion and garlic over low heat in about 2 Tbsp. olive oil. When they look translucent, put in the tomato paste and vinegar and reduce for about 2 minutes (try to avoid breathing in the steam, as the vinegar makes it quite potent!) Add the dried chile as well as the spices and saute for about 2 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring sauce to a boil and reduce heat to low. Let cook for about 15 minutes on low heat. When you are finished, you can puree the sauce, or strain it through a sieve, which is what I do since I don't have one of those fancy hand-held stick blenders.

To assemble enchiladas, dip each tortilla (look for some with no hydrogenated oils or corn syrup) into the sauce and place in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Fill with your choice of filling (I am doing shredded chicken with about 1 c. of the sauce mixed in and 1 Tbsp. sour cream) and roll up. Top with more enchilada sauce, some cheese (I use monterey jack because it melts nicely) and pop it into a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. You will have yourself some delicious, and healthy enchiladas.


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