Well, What Happened Was…

I have a confession.

Some recipes are more difficult to make than others.

Shocking, I know. You can pick your jaw up from the floor now.

I’m the type of person that gets really excited to try something new (in the kitchen that is). Especially when it’s something I’ve never attempted to make before in some shape or form. I go all out. I go buy wine because let’s face it, you can’t cook without wine. Plus, when it all goes south, you have something to drown your sorrows in right then and there. But, moving on…

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I sometimes even go to the expensive grocery stores like Whole Foods because the first attempt at a new dish needs the best ingredients you can get. You don’t want to set up the dish for failure before you actually begin cooking. (Confession: I didn’t actually go to Whole Foods for this particular dish because it didn’t need super fancy ingredients. I’m just informing you that I do it sometimes. But…oh, maybe that’s why it didn’t work out to my liking…Now, I’m going to have to go Whole Foods for every first try on a dish for the rest of my life. Goodbye, all future paychecks. I miss you already.)

Anyways, some dishes just don’t work out for you the first time. Happens to me more often than I would like to admit to myself. I’m trained, dammit. I should be able to read a recipe and execute it to perfection!

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“The freakin’ recipe must be flawed,” I think to myself in frustration.

That’s true sometimes. A recipe can be flawed, but not every recipe has something wrong with it. Let’s take into consideration one of my favorite sayings about relationships and apply it here: If you mess it up once, maybe it’s the recipe’s fault. If you give it another go and mess it up again, maybe it was a fluke. But if you give it a third try and everything goes awry, it’s just straight-up you. You’re the reason it didn’t work out. (Yup, someone told me this once as a joke concerning my relationships during my late-teens and early twenties…I didn’t find it very amusing at the time, but hey, it works here!)

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** I mean, really…look at it! **

So, what’s the point of this long and drawn out introduction? Well, what happened was…I tried to make tortillas for this particular blog post. I was feeling pretty confident (read cocky). I’ve never tried to make tortillas before and, by damn, I was going to nail it on the first try. Never mind that people learn this particular skill from their grandmothers (great-grandmothers and mothers, too) and the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation..but it’s like four ingredients so how difficult could it be?

Turns out a lot difficult. Okay, so it’s not like I blew up the stove or anything. They were tortilla-esque, but not really. Were they edible? Sure, if dry and crunchy around the edges is edible to you as a tortilla. I’m a perfectionist, so in my eyes they were a complete-and-utter failure. If you ask Michael, he says they were great, but he’s kind of required to say that to prevent the next tortilla from being thrown at his face…(which totally didn’t happen, by the way…)

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Like with a lot of traditional dishes cherished by their people, a recipe is sometimes just no good. It will never be helpful. Especially concerning tortillas. I just didn’t know what the dough was suppose to look like or feel like. As it turns out, my dough was too dry. It needed more moisture for the inside to steam open as it cooked on the griddle in order to make a soft and tender finished product. But hey, you can’t truly appreciate success unless you’ve failed a couple of times before that, right?

I’ll give it another go this week. Hell, I bought enough Crisco to give it a go once a week every week for the foreseeable future.

Until next time…

 

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Chicken Enchiladas

There are hundreds of food blogs on the Internet so why should you read mine? Why should you follow mine? Why should you learn from mine? Sure, I’ll be sharing recipes, but probably nothing you haven’t seen before whilst perusing Pinterest, Food Gawker, or WordPress. I’m not here to teach you new recipes (although, I might share a few along the way that you haven’t seen before). I’m not here to entertain you with my witty banter even though there will be lots of that. Or at least I hope you find the banter witty.

I’m here to teach you techniques. I’m here to teach you vocabulary. I’m here to teach you how to cook so that, one day, you don’t need that “too-tempting-not-to-pin” recipe. You’ll be able to create your own dishes because you’ll understand the process, not just memorizing the recipe. Bonus: You’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary knowledge!

Chicken EnchiladasDon’t get me wrong. I love Pinterest and I have quite a few recipes pinned. I have also cooked some of those recipes and they are delicious. I’m not here to tell you that they aren’t.

Now, I’m sure some of you have seen the Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce that’s been floating around Pinterest for the last year or so. I love it. My boyfriend loves it. It’s easy and it’s delicious. I will never bash something that has those qualities, but I create it without following the recipe. It comes out a little bit different each time, but different isn’t always bad.

For those of you who have made the dish or something similar, did you know that you make a roux while making the sauce? Or that the base of the sauce is a veloutè with other elements added to it? At the end of this post you will. I’m going to break down the recipe and explain the technique and the science behind why it works.

Let’s get started, shall we?

WHAT YOU NEED*

  • Chicken, cooked, shredded **shredded chicken
  • Cheese (whatever kind you like, I’m using a Monterrey Jack and Colby Mix)
  • Green chiles, canned (add as much as you like, they aren’t too spicy so go crazy)
  • Onion, small dice
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Chicken Stock
  • Sour Cream
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Corn Tortillas (You can use flour here if you’d like, but I prefer the taste of corn)

Basically, there are two parts to this recipe: the sauce and the enchilada.

THE SAUCE. Like I said before, the base of this sauce is a veloutè, which is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. It consists of a light colored stock (like chicken or fish) that is thickened with a blond (or lightly colored) roux. It’s really just a gravy, but that isn’t a very fancy word and we chefs like to make things super fancy.

We've reached the proper consistency. Do you see how the sauce coats the back of the spoon?

We’ve reached the proper consistency. Do you see how the sauce coats the back of the spoon?

Traditionally, there is a correct method to make this sauce, but traditional isn’t always the quickest way to go about things. So, we’re going to rearrange some steps to make things move a little faster.

  1. Take 2 tablespoons of butter and melt it in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and sauté until translucent (3-5 minutes)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and fully incorporate it into the onions/butter. This step is making your roux, which acts as a thickening agent. A roux is equal parts fat and flour. If you remember that, you can make 1 cup of sauce or 10 cups of sauce. Going for technique here, not recipe memorization. (Rule of thumb: 4 ounces of roux to 1 quart of liquid).
  4. Cook this for 3-5 minutes. This will give you a blond roux, which is great because it’s what we are going for.
  5. Add chicken stock and stir. We’ll start with a cup. Let it come to a boil. Why? The roux isn’t activated until the temperature reaches that of a boil (212 F). No activation = no thickening. So wait for the boil before panicking.
  6. Once the thickening begins, you can gauge whether or not you need more stock, which you probably will since we just started with a cup. Slowly incorporate more until you reach the consistency you desire. Ideally, the sauce should just coat the back of the spoon.
  7. Cook 10 minutes at a simmer to cook out the flour taste. Flour alone tastes awful. Don’t believe me? Eat a spoonful of flour and let me know how you liked the experience.
  8. Turn down the heat to low to add the sour cream. Dairy curdles at high temperatures and
    The finished sauce.

    The finished sauce.

    that’s not really what we’re going for here. We are going for a smooth, velvety sauce. (Fun Fact: Veloutè comes from the French word for “velvet”).

  9. Add the chiles.
  10. Season to taste with salt, paprika, and pepper. (I don’t know how much salt you like, only you know that. All of my posts will say “season to taste” for this very reason).

And the sauce is finished. Not too difficult, was it? The more you cook, the better you will get at the process. Like anything else, you just gotta keep at it.

THE ENCHILADA. This part is a no-brainer. Take shredded chicken and cheese and place slightlyfilling enchiladas off-center on a warm, corn tortilla (the microwave is fine for the warming). Roll it up. Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Continue the process until you’ve got a full dish.

THE FINISH. Cover with as much sauce as you want. I’m a sauce-lover so I go sauce crazy, especially with this one because I find it delicious. Bake at 350 F until it looks all bubbly. Each oven is different so all cooking times will vary. Not once was a time given in culinary school (except in the pastry classes because that’s a science). If you asked the Chef how long something baked for, you got “until it’s done” as the response. Annoying, right?

ENJOY IT. There is no point in cooking if you don’t get to sit down and indulge in what you just created. It might not always turn out the way you wanted it to, but that’s the fun of cooking. Sometimes you get something even better than you imagined.

* You’ll notice that there are no measurements next to the ingredients. I haven’t measured anything in years. I use the “eye-ball” method. If you want the measurements, check out the original recipe from Raining Hot Coupons. Just a reminder that mine is slightly different. 

**For my chicken, I seasoned it with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I baked it until it was cooked all the way through.