Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why do I always pick the complicated one?

It never fails...if there is a recipe in the cookbook that takes for freakin' ever, involves a minimum of 47 steps, and I plan to do it on a weeknight, then all my carefully laid plans on getting it done will go directly out the window.

And, then I'll forget a step or two, so it's going to be a crap shoot on how it turns out. (Beats head on counter)

In case you haven't noticed, I kinda didn't make it through the whole "cook from a cookbook every day this week", no bestselling book from a blog for me, a la Julie and Julia, but, I did finally do a recipe out of Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time.

(Julie and Julia is pretty funny; I listened to it as an audiobook, read by the author, which I think really worked for it as an experience. IAnd, I was listening to it every morning on my way to that first quarter of culinary school. It makes me consider, every once in an extremely great while, doing something similar (like last week's postings), but then I'm not sure I have the same level of commitment...or commitability, as in to the funny farm, as she did. However, she did get a best seller, which has been optioned for a movie with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child, out of her insanity. Meryl. Streep. This is what all bloggers secretly aspire deal, with the cherry on top movie deal. Hey Hollywood--call meeee!)

Without further ado, I present the craziness that is Rick Bayless and his contemporary Mexican recipe:

Chicken-and-Mushroom-Stuffed Chiles with Tomatoes and Cream

4 1/5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, or vegetable oil
2 medium white onions, medium dice
Two 28-ounce cans good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, undrained
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups (about 4 oz) sliced stemmed flavorful mushrooms, like shiitakes
1 1/2 cups of whole kernel corn, either fresh or frozen
2 tsp cider vinegar
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (can used rotisserie or smoked chicken)
1 cup, pack, thinly sliced spinach
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chicken or beef broth
8 medium (about 1 1/2 lbs) fresh poblano chiles, not twisted or deeply indented, preferably with long stems
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

(A word of advice: get your mise en place together before you me on this one.)


1. The Sauce and Filling Base. In a medium-large (4-qt) sauce pan, heat 3 Tbs of the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until well browned; about 10 minutes. While onions are cooking, puree the undrained canned tomatoes in a blender or food processor, working in 2 batches if necessary.

When the onions are browned, raise heat to medium-high and add the tomato puree, cinnamon, and pepper. Stir regularly as the mixture boils, reducing to the consistency of thick tomato sauce; about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. The Filling. In a large (10-12 inch) skillet, preferably non-stick, heat the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs of oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the edges turn golden; about 5 minutes.

Stir in half of the tomato mixture, the corn, and vinegar, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape. Stir in chicken and spinach or cilantro. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. (Note from Me: I didn't find that the mixture was soupy at all, and the chicken seemed to absorb the sauce well, so I essentially just heated it up to temperature.)

3. The Tomato Sauce. Stir broth into the remaining tomato mixture. Partially cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes or so, while preparing the chiles. (Note from Me Again: This is the step that I completely forgot. I don't know where my brain was, but it completely skipped over this part. I think I was worried about getting on to the roasting of the chiles part, and I totally overlooked adding the chicken broth (and if I had poured it out earlier, it would have caught my eye, and I would have looked for it in the recipe.) So, it remains to be seen how this is going to turn out...the sauce is probably going to have a bit of a raw taste to it.)

4. Preparing the Chiles. (Yeah, I's only 4 steps so far, but there's soooo many parts!!) Roast chiles directly over gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until skins have blistered and blackened on all sides. Be careful not to char the flesh, only the skin. Remove from heat and cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes. (Note from Me: You can also put them in a plastic bag and let them steam for a few minutes to finish loosening the skin. This charring and removing of the skin is a pain in the ass, but it is very necessary...again, trust me on this one.) Gently rub off the blackened skin, then cut an incision in the side of each one, starting 1/2 inch below the stem and going to within 1/2 inch of the tip. Work your fingers inside and carefully remove the seeds from inside the chiles, being careful not to rip the opening any wider; rinse off any stray bits of skin, and drain cut side down on paper towels. (You are wearing gloves, aren't you? You should so be wearing gloves. Yeah, yeah, poblanos are fairly mild, but go ahead, take your contacts out with those bare hands after you've been working with those chiles...I dare you.)

5. Stuffing and Baking the Chiles. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Fill each chile with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture and reform it into its original shape, then lay seam side down in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Check the consistency of the tomato sauce; it should be medium-thick. If it is too thick, stir in a little water. If too thin, simmer briskly until thickened. Taste and season with salt; about 1 teaspoon.

Pour sauce over the chiles, covering them, then drizzle with cream. Bake until sauce is bubbling vigorously, and the cream is beginning to brown; about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Serves 4; 2 chiles per person.

(You can make this all in advance; refrigerate sauce, filling, and chiles separately. Stuff chiles, add sauce and cream, then bake just before ready to serve. If everything is cold, bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.)

Whew! I'm worn out from just typing up the recipe...and you are thinking I am crazier by the minute as you read the recipe. When I pulled it out of the oven, I tasted the sauce, and it was a little flat...needed a little more saltiness. So, I added cheese and popped it under the broiler. I shredded some Asadero cheese, which is a good melting cheese...think of the white cheese dip at your local favorite Mexican restaurant. (Hey, when all else fails, why not add cheese?)

The overall consensus was the flavors were good, but was it worth the all the time and effort? Not really, and I don't think forgetting the chicken broth and simmering part really hurt the final product. The Man said he thought it would have worked just as well as an enchilada casserole and would have been way less work. I have to concur, and since I have some leftover filling, I'll be experimenting with the enchilada theory for lunch tomorrow...with lots of cheese.

Cheese, cheese, cheese...makes the world go round!


Erin said...

I just started reading Julie and Julia. So far, it's great!

Lin said...

I applaud your efforts, but that looks like WAAAAY too much work for me to tackle. If The Man ate it, that's a good thing.
I like the fact Meryl Streep is set to play Julia, though I don't know if she'll be able to pull off Julia's robust good humor. Meryl is more of a sly-look kind of actress.

Lin said...

That's interesting... Google recognizes my Google account but Blogger doesn't this morning (for the first time since you started this blog.)
By the way, I like your blog even if it hasn't been optioned for the movies. I hear your voice.