Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cheese Enchiladas with Tomatillo sauce

So I'm driving from Colorado to Washington about 6 years ago. You know the drill, mile after mile of interstate, stop for gas and restroom occasionally, and keep going until you're exhausted. You pull off in the middle of nowhere, check into some non-chain hotel with a restaurant nearby, go to your room, buy a paper and go to the dive restaurant for some food. This particular dive was Mexican food, which I'm not particularly a fan of.

I ordered Cheese Enchilada with a Chile Verde sauce and turned to the paper.

Dinner came. A huge platter, steaming, with refried beans on one side, rice on the other, and in the middle, four good size corn tortillas wrapped around a blend of cheese, and smothered in a green tomatillo verde sauce.

It was HEAVEN! I've never had a Mexican meal so good. The sauce was tangy, delicious, robust, a bit warm, but not overwhelming, with drippy, gooey, cheese goodness dripping with each bite. I cleaned the plate. I had no idea Mexican food could taste this good. And in some unknown restaurant off some interstate.

That being said, on a number of occasions I have tried to duplicate that meal in my kitchen, and have not yet succeeded. BUT, this rendition is definitely closer. Give it a try, you might like it, and I, of course, will continue to tweak it in the background until I duplicate that wonderful meal I had somewhere on the plains of the Western US.

Ingredients and Method:

6 medium sized tomatillos
1 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches green onions chopped (reserve some for garnish)
1 or 2 small cans mild green chilies (depending on your "heat" preference)
1 small can diced tomatoes
leaves of one bunch cilantro
juice of two fresh limes
1 can refried beans
6 corn or flour tortillas
3 cups shredded cheese - Mexican blend or Monterey Jack.

Remove tomatillo husks, wash and quarter and place in large frying pan. Add water, and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until tomatillos are very soft.

Carefully pour contents of pan into food processor. Add cilantro, green onions, chilies, tomatoes and the lime juice. Process in bursts until well blended. Return to pan over low eat and let cook on low for a few minutes to blend flavors.

Grease an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Take a tortilla and with a knife spread a layer of refried beans. Add 1/3 cup cheese, and carefully roll up tortilla and place in dish. Repeat until casserole dish is full. Pour tomatillo sauce over rolled tortilla's and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in 350 degree oven of 20 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.

Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.



Chef Tess said...

Can you remember the name of the town? I went to a dive in Alamosa CO and they had the best Chile Verde I've ever had. I wonder if it's the same place. This looks pretty awesome though!

The Merlin Menu said...

Not even sure there WAS a town. Somewhere in rural Wyoming or Idaho.