These were a lot of fun. I always try to work with healthy foods. In Kuwait, I had one friend, and every week, when we all brought food to a gathering, hers always went in a heartbeat. Her secret – bottled cheese sauce, and lots of it.
I know, I know, it’s processed. There probably isn’t any real cheese in the sauce at all. But it tastes SO GOOD!
You can put anything in an enchilada. For these, I had chicken breasts, which I cut into 3/4″ chunks and marinated for two days in a big carton of yoghurt, (I would guess four cups yoghurt), about 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons chili powder, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon cumin powder. The yoghurt makes the chicken really tender and juicy.
I drained about half the yoghurt – not all.
Chop and fry two onions in olive oil to the almost crisp stage, with one chopped red pepper and one chopped yellow pepper. When cooked, add in the chicken, and cook until just cooked, but still juicy.
Meanwhile, mash two cans of pinto beans.
Chop an avocado – chunks about 3/4 inch. Add in the cooked chicken, onions, peppers, and mix.
Spoon into center of burrito wrapper. Roll up and place in pan.
The secret ingredient – two jars of Chili Con Queso, cover enchiladas and bake 30 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
I had my menu all set, and then, when I went to the butcher, he said “No madam, we never do this. You will not find this in all of Doha.
If I had the time, I would go to “all of Doha” and prove him wrong. And oh-by-the-way, what is wrong with saying “we can do this for you and have it ready for you tomorrow morning at 0900?” something like that?? No, just “you will never see this in Doha.”
So I can spend my time grinding my teeth in anger, or running all over Doha to see if I can find what I need (flank steak) or . . . I can see what is available and do what I can with what is available. Fortunately, I see a familiar cut of meat, and I can work with it.
When I get around a group of people, I can’t concentrate. I am so focused on the conversation and the people, that if I have houseguests, for example, which I did this weekend, I can’t talk and get dinner on the table at the same time (even with help!)
My solution is to do everything possible ahead of time, and make lists, including what dishes I plan to use for serving, what times this needs to happen, and then that, and sequences. That way, the fact that my thinking process goes on hold means I am not facing total disaster.
I needed to have a lot of variety, so that if someone didn’t like something, there would be something else they might like.
I took an old faithful recipe, Rouladen, and reworked it for a Mexican theme dinner. The secret to successful rouladen is long, slow pre-cooking. It can be entirely cooked the day before and then re-warmed to serve when you need it. It takes what might be a tough cut of beef and renders it fork-friendly. You don’t even need a knife; it cuts easily with a fork and melts in your mouth.
You pound the meat, especially on the edges, to flatten it and to tenderize it.
You have the filler ingredients ready to go:
Actually, I forgot to put the jalepenos inside, so I chopped up a few very finely and added them to the sauce – it turned out to be just the right thing. I like to start with just a teaspoon of Pesto, just to give it a little pop, and some already-cooked and crumbled bacon (this is turkey bacon, but any bacon will do.)
You sprinkle the other ingredients lightly over the length of the roll, leaving about an inch all around for rolling and folding:
When they are rolled, you put them closely together in a pot:
This is key – you make up an acidic sauce – tomatoes, for example, are acidic. I use tomato paste, and tomatoes, and then you can add broth, or wine, or lemon juice – something to make it more liquid. You also add spices, in this case, chili and cumin for the Mexican flavor, plus, as I mentioned above, some very finely chopped jalepenos.
Then, you pop it into a slow oven – 350°F/180°C – and slow cook it three or four hours. That’s why you want it very liquid-y, so that the sauce won’t disappear during the long cooking, it will concentrate. Yummm!
No, I don’t have any photos of the finished dish. I was pretty busy. The roulades shrink, and brown over the top, but remain fork-tender for eating when you heat them up (30 minutes at 350°F/180°C, until hot!)
This is what one roulade on a plate looks like. They are much prettier when a bunch are all cooked up in the pan together, and I serve them right out of one of my Damascus copper cooking pots: