I’m practicing recipes to get ready for a private cooking class. What’s the subject? Italian Classics? Bread? Pie? No, it’s Mexican Food! After all, as a native Los Angelena it’s my favorite. Seriously. My last meal would be a stack of hand patted corn tortillas, pinto beans and a charred chile. Growing up in the Silverlake/Echo Park area I spent many hours after school at friend’s houses tucking into the comfort of simple homemade Mexican food. So this is one cuisine I learned not by a lot of study but by watching friends. Although I do confess that the very first cooking class I ever took was with Diana Kennedy back in the pleistocene age (the 70s). I still remember the Chile Relleno de Picadillo we made. Unbelievable!
So dinner tonight were these stacked enchiladas, rojo and verde. The red sauce is pretty simple and is quite versatile. You can use it as a sauce for enchiladas or slathered over chicken destined for the oven or as a dip for chips. I like to use the Tomatillo Sauce for chips, for enchiladas and as a sauce for grilled fish. I filled the Enchiladas Rojos with shredded chicken and the Enchiladas Verdes with Fontina Cheese. Hey, it’s what I had in the house.
1 small bag dried Pasilla chiles
1 small bag dried Guajillo Chiles
1 white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4s
2 cloves peeled garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or to taste
Pinch of brown sugar or to taste
2 teaspoons dried Mexican Oregano
Salt to taste
Open chiles to remove and discard seeds. Briefly toast the chiles on a stovetop griddle or non stick pan until color darkens and aromas release but not until they burn. Remove from heat, place in saucepan with onion and garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil then cover. Let simmer being sure the chiles stay submerged. Simmer a few minutes or until chiles and onion are soft. Put softened chiles and onion into a blender with half the cooking water. Save the rest of the water until you’re sure you like the sauce’s texture. Add the vinegar, oregano and salt to the blender. Put the lid on and hold down tight. Blend on high speed. Turn off blender (yeah, no kidding) and check sauce for texture. If it is too thick loosen it by adding a little bit more water. Also check the sauce for the balance of flavor and add additional vinegar or salt as necessary.
1 pound firm tomatillos. papery covering removed
4 garlic gloves
1/2 white onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bunch cilantro
Salt to taste
Wash tomatillos and place in saucepan. Cover with water and add garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook until color changes to khaki and they are soft without falling completely apart. Drain and place tomatillos in a blender or food processor. Add the onion, cilantro and salt to taste. Blend at medium speed until the texture is what you want. Adjust salt.