Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Enchilada Problem-Solving: Chilaquiles Instead

The Gluten-Free Chicano Cooks
Gluten-free Enchilada Pie
Michael Sedano

there’s no tortillas, I don’t eat bread
there’s no tortillas, for my refrieds…”

That’s not exactly how Lalo Guerrero sings it, but that’s what my refrigerator sings when I begin the process of making dinner. In my life, cooking a meal is one thing that’s certain, and it’s all mine, to plan, shop, prepare, and share. There's special importance to this duty along with its inherent joy. Mealtime ought to be automatic enjoyment as the day’s one respite--

These days there’s always an obstacle. It’s not that there’s no tortillas, there aren’t enough. And I knew it yesterday when I moved the small can of Las Palmas enchilada sauce, picante, out to the kitchen. But I couldn’t get to the grocery store. 

Old mother Hubbard and I went to my reefer  (she brought her own, five feet long) to see what’s to see: everything today is a down-to-the-dregs leftover: a few slices of pork chop from stir-fry, chunks of white and yellow cheddars, a nub of fresh mozzarella, a manchego wedge. There’s cilantro and half a brown onion. 

A tortilla compromise: Quesadillas, Tacos, Tostadas, something else, would have to present itself. More than anything, I have the antoja for enchiladas. But not to make just four. Compromise: chilaquiles. 

I grew up eating rolled enchiladas de queso. When I was in the Army and overseas, my Mom taught Barbara how to make enchiladas.  My gramma and my mom made onion-cheese red chile rolled enchiladas. Rolled. No other. 

One relative serves her husband a tortilla folded over the filling and baked. Barbara and I call that “no-love enchiladas” and my Mom agreed and never got over that slight. But I understand “quick & dirty”; that’s evidently how Manitos Manitas Manitx do theirs, red or green. Folded.

The past 40 years or so, I’ve routinely rolled meat and cheese inside my enchiladas. I served this variation—her sauce--to my mom when she lived with us, and she liked them, no secret disapproval of how her son gets fed. When you eat my enchiladas, you’re eating my gramma’s cooking, those are my mom’s enchiladas.

That’s not what ran through my thoughts holding that bag of four tortillas. I am tired and worn out. Wednesday can’t come soon enough—that’s my day off. So tonight it’s gluten-free cooking, estilo quick and desperate.

The Gluten-free Chicano’s Quick & Desperate Enchilada Pie

Ingredients • about 85g carbohydrates total. 
4 tortillas
4 oz meat
½ brown onion
1 cup grated cheese of mix varieties
Corn starch, absolutely pure corn
Las Palmas picante enchilada sauce. (Hot or mild red enchilada sauce (no tomato). I intended to buy green enchilada sauce, so that would work, too.)
Rerfried frijoles
Sour cream or Crema
Pie pan
No-stick spray
(see the carb counter at the bottom of the page)

Work At Your Own Pace Though This Takes No Time At All To:
Spray the pie pan and set it near the work area.
Pre-heat oven 375º. Middle or top rack.

Wrap tortillas in a dishtowel, microwave 30 seconds. Let rest and they'll grow supple enough to use to roll enchiladas, as was my intent today. But the first tortilla I took from the wrap cracked from age, or manufacturing defect. I stared at the broken tortilla in my hand, my resignation I'd roll four enchiladas only, frustrated. In momentary rage, I ripped the cracked tortilla in half. 

This decided my menu. I tore all the tortillas into strips then divided those into rectangles. Chilaquiles for dinner. I wanted to get it done, be serviceable while respecting the food. I lost myself at the chopping board and everything was cool. I didn't have to make four.

Mince onion with cilantro.
Grate cheeses. (The reason I have these chubs of cheese is they're so small, grating them endangers knuckles, absent extra care. I am extra careful. A food processor like Cuisineart makes grating no challenge. As a child in the 1950s, and until 1963, I was my mother's cheese grater. I went away to college and Mom replaced me with a Cuisineart.)

In the Microwave oven, I reheat refrigerated beans to spreadable consistency. Add water if you made them dry-style.

Chop, mince, food process, the pork into ground protein. You could fry up some taco ground beef or  pick meat off a chicken carcass. Set aside.

Pour half the can of chile sauce into a microwaveable vessel.
Stir 2 TBS corn starch into the cold chile sauce and dissolve all the lumps you see. Cover with a dish or film and micro 2 minutes. Stir and micro 1 minute. You want the chile-cornstarch more than twice as thick as straight from the can.

Spoon a couple TBS of sauce into the bottom of the pie pan.
Put the torn tortillas in the pan.
Add onion-cilantro, stir together. If I'd gotten to the store, I would have added black sliced olives.

Reserve 2 TBS sauce. Pour the warm sauce into the tortillas and mix.
Keep mixing, use a fork and separate the pieces stuck together. Every surface needs coating.

Spread the ground meat across the top, forming a thin layer.

Spoon beans around the edge of the pie pan and flatten them in a circle toward the center of the pan. Be decorative and make a ring around the pie pan.

Slather sour cream atop the ring of refritos.
Cover the open surface with cheeses. Dribble reserved red sauce across the cheese. Also spatula the red sauce out of the cooking vessel. Use all your red or green enchilada sauce.

Place the food on a flat cookie pan and Bake at 375º for 40 minutes. 

Cool for at least half an hour. 
The masa becomes completely saturated with the thickened chile sauce as it boils. As the pie cools from boiling, the tortilla custard settles and thickens.  When you cut your gluten-free quick&desperate tortilla pie, the insides flow only a little if it's cooled enough. 

Serve covered with an egg or two. I served a bed of chopped lettuce with a scoop of cottage cheese and canned pear slices.

Tomorrow, the refrigerated sobras are a beautiful dish. Reheat for a minute or so in the micro, or turn on the oven to 350º and give it 10 minutes. 

I served breakfast like I serve at dinner, with an egg. And if you got to the store in the meantime, some sliced tomatoes and aguacate, a hot salsa on the side. But if you'd gotten to the store, these would have been rolled enchiladas and where would we be?

8g    4 tortillas
0g    4 oz meat
8g    ½ brown onion
2g    1 cup grated cheese of mix varieties
18g    Las Palmas picante enchilada sauce
1.5g   Cilantro
14g    Corn starch, absolutely pure corn
.01g   Comino
28g    Refried frijoles
6g      Sour cream or Crema
Pie pan
No-stick spray
about 85g carbohydrates in the entire meal.

1 comment:

Herlinda said...

Don't know why but as I read the article my mouth kept watering...it all sounded good to me!