Monday, October 23
Whoa - work has been so busy lately that I've barely had time to exhale, and least of all, get into the kitchen and cook something worth posting about! My position at work has shifted over the last month, and I'm basically learning on the job - figuring it out as I go now - which means a new level of stress that I'm not yet used to.
This is great for my career, but I need to tilt the scales a bit and get back in balance. I've hated not having time to dreamily flip through my cookbooks on the weekend and choose our menu for the upcoming week - lately it's been a mad rush to the store on the way home from somewhere else on Sunday evening, and by the time we eat most nights, I'm already thinking about something else before I've finished my last sip of wine, and I'm back to the computer or books.
Well, I've had enough of that! Cooking is a part of my life - a passion that I'm not ready to sacrifice to a busy schedule.
This Sunday Dustin and I were trying come up with a list of dishes that we haven't eaten in a long time, since we've been relying on old standards lately. Our list is our menu for this week - Roast Pork with Brussel Sprouts, Pesto Chicken Pasta (to use up the 4 pounds of basil still in the garden), a Squash Souffle (from this month's Gourmet), Risotto with Raddichio, and finally, our Sunday night Supper - Chilaquiles.
If you've never had Chilaquiles before, and have been turned off by their messy and unsophisticated nature - think again. Chilaquiles are everything that I love about Mexican Food - warm, rich with the flavor of toasted corn and smoky chiles, and a fabulous excuse to eat all the best condiments - Avocados, Sour Cream, Crumbly, Salty Cheese, and Cholula. With a cold beer, it's the perfect thing to remind me why I love to spend time in my kitchen - to slow down, create something beautiful and delicious, and celebrate daily life.
This recipe is wonderfully simple, but if you want to make it even simpler, you could substitute a good-quality Tomatillo Salsa for the Homemade. It will lack some of the sweet nuance of a homemade sauce, but I'll admit it's just as good. I've had good results with Rick Bayless' Tomatillo Salsa, sold in Whole Foods.
Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde
Adapted from Mexican, by Williams Sonoma
1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
4 serrano chilies
2 cloves garlic
½ white onion, coarsely chopped, plus 1 or
more thin white onion slices, separated into rings for garnish
1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil
A pinch of sea salt, plus more, to taste
½ lb. thick tortilla chips (the thicker the better)
2 cups shredded chicken (optional, but recommended)
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
1 cup crema or sour cream
½ cup crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
1 Avocado, sliced into thin lengths
Place the tomatillos in a small saucepan and add water to barely cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chilies and garlic and continue to cook until the tomatillos are completely soft, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos, chilies and garlic to a blender; reserve the cooking liquid. Add the chopped onion and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to the blender and process until well blended.
In a heavy skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Pour in the tomatillo mixture all at once and stir vigorously. Stir in an additional 1⁄2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid along with a pinch of sea salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary.
Just before serving, carefully fold the tortilla chips, chicken and cilantro into the sauce and continue cooking until softened but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with sea salt.
Scoop the mixture into 4 shallow bowls, and top with sliced onion rings, sour cream, queso, avocado and additional cilantro leaves, if desired. Serves 4.