It was the department party for the TAs. A pot luck. The department would supply the beverages, the TAs brought the food. One of the TAs came up to me and, in a gesture of camaraderie, warned "Watch out for the enchilados, they're really hot."
The myth of Mexican food had struck again. The dish prepared by The Gluten-free Chicano is anything but chiloso. Some tastebuds are more sensitive than others, and that particular crowd, it turned out, was typical of many. "Mexican food" means burn your mouth delicious.
By now, most diners understand "Mexican food" doesn't have to start out chiloso, but that's always an option, either in the preparation or serving a hot salsa on the side.
The enfrijolada can be made really hot by adding any number of chiles to the mix. Serving a pot luck or dinner crowd, the Gluten-free Chicano tones down the fire.
Pre-heat the oven to 350º.
Cube chicken meat (the Gluten-free Chicano used a COSTCO roasted chicken and removed the breasts for this dish).
Mince a medium-sized onion, six or eight branches of cilantro, a couple teeth of garlic.
Add ⅓ can of diced tomatoes.
You can use black olives but the Gluten-free Chicano wanted a more piquant flavor so this preparation added a dozen pimiento-stuffed green olives.
If serving people with appreciative taste buds, finely mince two serrano chiles.
Add a cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
Soften a good quality corn tortilla in hot olive oil in a small frying pan. The Gluten-free Chicano prefers Diana's brand of extra large tortilla de maíz. The manufacturer uses only corn, lime, and water, no xanthan gum and no additives.
Using tongs, dip the first tortilla on both sides until it is flexible. Transfer that to a plate. Dip the next tortillas on one side, and place the oiled side up on top of the stack.
The tortillas will cool enough to roll by hand.
Add a large pinch of filling and spread it across a softened tortilla. (You can soften the tortillas in a microwave oven. Wrap them in a dish towel and microwave for 30 seconds on high. But work quickly because microwaving makes them sticky as they cool).
|Roll into a tight bundle|
Repeat this until the baking dish is filled. If you run out of space while rolling, just roll on top of the done ones.
|Fill the baking dish snugly|
|Top with left-over stuffing|
|Add a layer of beans; fried or de la olla.|
|Slather sour cream or crema mexicana across the surface|
|Garnish with shredded cheese|
Set the timer for 45 minutes if using cold ingredients, 30 if using warm filling.
There are two schools of thought on service. I prefer to find the open-ends and spatula a single enfrijolada to each plate (or two for larger appetites). You can cut through the top like a casserole and serve a 4" square.
|Bake. Note the open ends for serving|
Enfrijoladas is a low-cost, highly nutritious, and gluten-free dish. Beware "gourmet" tortillas as the "gourmet" part means some menacing industrial entity has added wheat to the masa.
A crisp green salad, a hearty red wine, or lots of Bard's Gluten-free beer will make the meal a major hit.
"Damn," one of the TAs said, pushing away from the table to get seconds, "I didn't know Mexican food could be so delicious! I'm sure glad you're in the program."