Friday, April 12, 2013

The Sophisticated Enchilada and a Nouvelle Mexican Take on Salad

I have a house full of teenagers.  OK, well maybe I should qualify that to "a few days a week I have a house full of them."  I actually only have two of my own, and one is away at college, so the house really should be...well...kinda empty.   But the kids have always had their friends over, and since those friends know I cook, they still come over to hang out...after soccer practice, for extended study sessions, movies, after-prom-breakfast, you name it.  No complaints here - I love it.  Recently some of the girls have expressed interest in wanting to learn how to cook themselves, so I gathered them up one night and we drove to Barnes and Noble where we grabbed a table, got our Starbucks and started flipping through cookbooks.  They browsed world cuisines, and after much debate across the spectrum from Indian to French, we settled on our theme for the first meal - Mexican.  Decidedly an American favorite, right?  Complicated at times because it can range from freshly delectable to nothing better than a TV dinner (do the teenagers even know what that is anymore - I forgot to ask them).  

Some of you may know that I am part of this awesome program with, where as a home cook, I have the opportunity to test out some of their brand partner products and recipes.  One of this month's brand partners is Herdez (you may be familiar with some of their Mexican sauces).  Could the timing be more perfect?  I settled on two recipes for the girls - Enchiladas Suizas and a Sweet Pulled Pork Barbacoa Salad.  Can you ever go wrong with enchiladas?  This great dish translates from a family meal to a last minute potluck offering to dinner for your college roommates.  And to go with the dish, I thought I would throw a salad into the fray to introduce the art of mixing textures and savory/sweet flavors.

When enchiladas are made just right, the filling is wrapped in warm tortillas, and covered with a creamy, tangy, flavor-bursting sauce.  Enchiladas Suizas are a family favorite...we make the sauce from scratch, with grill-roasted tomatillos, chunks of swiss cheese, serrano peppers, onion and garlic, sour cream to cool it down a bit, and chicken broth to add to the flavor.  For this recipe I added one bottle of Herdez tomatillo Verde sauce to up the zing factor, and holy cow, that move was spot on.  The sauce was not only as good as always, but probably topped the sophisticated scale.  I felt like a pro when our little dinner party sat down and tasted this beautifully baked cheesy wonder.  I'm a huge fan of placing sliced avocados on top of the cheese, then covering with more cheese--it bakes up to something fiercely satisfying.  Here's the link to the recipe:  Enchiladas Suizas

By far, though, my favorite recipe of the night was the Sweet Pulled Pork
Barbacoa Salad.  Besides how creative you can be with salad making, I wanted the girls to take away two other things:  they were using an inexpensive cut of meat to make something that tastes like it came from a 5star restaurant, and the recipe is so easily filling with...wait for it...healthy foods that are impossible to resist.  I marinated the pork the day before, and then slow-roasted it all day.  You mix anything with a good cola and brown sugar, and it's going to taste good.  In this case, I also added Herdez Roasted Pasilla Chile sauce to the mix, which was so much tastier than traditional red enchilada sauce.  We built the salad by placing a flour tortilla into a bowl and filling it as follows: black beans, rice, lettuce, pork, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, tortilla strips, and a side of guacamole.  I made a creamy tomatillo dressing to be served on the side.  It's a salad that gives you the sweet and savory, the tangy, and all kinds of soft and crunchy textures.  Please try it:  Sweet Pulled Pork Barbacoa Salad

We ended the evening with, no, not homemade...purchased from the bakery around the corner.  And a discussion of our next adventure...into French cooking.  But, first, we are planning a trip to one of the more popular Mexican restaurants in town to compare our theirs.