August 14, 2015
I am always on the lookout for recipes that taste good and are “stuffed” with memories (no pun intended). A few months ago, Buddy Deimler (Agriculture Education Specialist at Utah State Office of Education) and I were waiting for a meeting to start. During our time-passing "chit-chat," the conversation turned to planting gardens. Buddy casually mentioned he always special orders his pepper seeds from New Mexico State University – for $4 a seed! (WHAT!!) He said it was his one indulgence. Well that got my attention! (It was not until this week I found out the $4/seed was actually $4/packet. When Buddy corrected me on the price he added, "if they were that expensive I would find a cheaper habit.” For 4 months I believed he was indeed “indulgent.”
*Meat is optional. If you decide to use: cook, shred or chop meat, set aside. Chop onions, mince 4-tablespoons of onion, set chopped and minced aside; shred lettuce, set aside; crumble or shred cheese and set aside. If making chile sauce from scratch, see note below, prepare and set aside.
Use 15-20 dried chile pods (New Mexico chili pods, Ancho or Pasilla pods, etc); break off stem, slit side and remove seeds. Cover with boiling water, gently simmer 10-15 minutes to rehydrate. Cool. Place chilies and a little cooking liquid in blender and puree, add 2-cups chicken or beef broth and enough more of the cooking liquid to make 6-cups sauce. Strain; add 1-can (8-oz) tomato sauce, 1-tablespoon cumin, and salt to taste (2-3 teaspoons).
Heat 3-tablespoons oil in medium saucepan or large skillet, add minced onion and saute until tender; add minced garlic and continue to saute until fragrant (30-60 seconds). Remove pan from heat, add flour and stir until smooth; stir in 1-cup chile sauce until smooth; add remaining chile sauce, return pan to heat and cook stirring frequently until sauce thickens. Simmer sauce while preparing tortillas.
Add oil to a second skillet and heat. “Chase” the tortilla through oil to warm and soften (lightly fry; tortilla should still be soft, not crisp). Place tortilla on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Keep tortillas warm while frying remaining tortillas and the eggs.
“Chase” or dip tortilla in chile sauce and place on plate. Sprinkle with cheese, onion and optional meat; repeat process stacking tortillas on top of each other until desired thickness. Spoon additional sauce over the top. Top with a fried eggs; garnish with additional cheese, shredded lettuce, optional tomato and avocados. Served with pinto beans and Spanish rice.
Food often connects us to fond memories. This is why I like to cook – its more than something to eat, it is often a fun walk down memory lane. If the memory hasn’t been created food can help create it. What, I wondered, was so special about these peppers that Buddy was willing to pay $4/seed? Though I was later corrected, my disbelief and wonder got me thinking.
I did not have long to wait before Buddy began to describe his love for peppers, his home town of Tularosa, New Mexico and the annual enchilada fundraiser for the school – where “Tina Cordova’s mom” would make thousands of enchiladas. With memories like that I not only had to hear the whole story, but I had to make the famous “Flat” or “Stacked” Red Chile Enchiladas.
Traditionally New Mexico Stacked Enchiladas are eaten flat, very little meat, and with an over easy egg on top. If you choose to use meat, cook first. Use shredded beef, pork, chicken; or ground beef.
Any cheese will work, but for a more traditional taste use quesco fresco, mozzarella or even feta cheese.
As with all favorite, and heavily prepared recipes, the cook often does not measure ingredients but cooks according to taste. Use the ingredient list as a suggestion and adjust to your own taste preferences.
You may purchase canned enchilada sauce, but making it from scratch is preferred, very simple and inexpensive.
Wondering how to put all of this together? Watch me prep the dish on Studio 5. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. Thank you Rosalie Cordova!