Posts Tagged With: Santa Cruz Chile and Spice Company

Sonoran Flat Enchiladas, a demo by the experts

Elda Islas and Armida Islas as sisters-in-law who make Sonoran flat enchiladas according to directions handed down by Elda's mother and their mother-in-law Josefa.

Elda Islas and Armida Islas are sisters-in-law who make Sonoran flat enchiladas according to directions handed down by Elda’s mother and their mother-in-law Josefa Islas.

Hello. It’s Carolyn here with you this week.  First I want to welcome all our new followers. Always feel free to leave a note, an observation, even a qibble. We want this to be a community conversation.

When I heard that Slow Food was considering nominating Sonoran flat enchiladas as a vanishing food tradition, I knew exactly where to go to document what in the Islas family is a recurring staple. Elda Islas and Armida Islas are sisters-in-law who are married to brothers who ran the American Meat Company on South Fourth Avenue in Tucson. Their families and their husbands go back many generations in Tucson and Sonora.

Elda’s husband Filiberto told me that Sonoran flat enchiladas were traditionally served on Fridays when Catholics were prohibited from eating meat. Since fresh fish wasn’t always available in the desert, this was a hearty substitute.

For our lesson, we met one afternoon last week in Elda’s comfortable kitchen in the Menlo Park neighborhood in Tucson. First we made the chile sauce.  In this case, we used fresh chile paste prepared from plump red chiles by Filiberto. But you can also use canned Las Palmas chile or Santa Cruz chile paste.  Elda began by smashing some garlic with a stone with a flat side she had inherited from her mother-in-law. It has been used by generations of women and has grooves worn where the fingers grip it.  Then we browned the garlic in a little oil.

Smashing the garlic with a stone.

Smashing the garlic with a stone.

 

Brown the garlic in a little oil.

Brown the garlic in a little oil.

Next we added 3 tablespoons flour, the  2 cups of chile paste and a little broth and let it simmer gently.

The chile sauce should be thick but fluid

The chile sauce should be thick but fluid.

Next we made the masa.  She used lard which recent studies have shown is not as bad for you as Crisco.  Armida mixed it with her hands.

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5 pounds fresh masa

¼ cup soft lard (yes indeed)

2 cups queso fresco, grated

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons salt

(Some cooks also include mashed potatoes, cottage cheese or a beaten egg)

Combine all in a deep bowl and knead with hands until thoroughly combined. It should be creamy, damp but not sticky. 

Making the masa patties.

Making the masa patties.

 

When the masa was ready, we formed it into patties 1/4- to 3/8- inch thick and 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Meanwhile  ½-inch of vegetable oil was heating in a heavy frying pan When it was hot (didn’t have a thermometer, but probably around 350 degrees F.), Armida slid in three patties. A bigger frying pan could probably accommodate four.

She fried them until they were golden on the underside, about three minutes.  Then she turned them to fry another 2 to 3 minutes until golden. She lined a oblong dish with paper towels and stacked the finished patties to drain. Eventually we ended up with 3 dozen patties.

Sizzling and smelling delicious.

Sizzling and smelling delicious.

 

The patties should be crispy on the outside and light on the inside.

The patties should be crispy on the outside and light on the inside.

Now it was time to assemble the enchiladas.  Armida dipped each patty in the chile sauce and arranged them on a plate.  Then it was time for the condiments.  We used lettuce, grated queso fresco, chopped green olives, radishes, and chopped green onion.

The condiments

The condiments

 When the Sonoran flat enchiladas are assembled, they look like this.  What is missing from the photo is the aroma.  Heavenly!

Three enchiladas made a nice meal. You can also add beans and rice.

Three enchiladas made a nice meal. You can also add beans and rice.

Should you have any leftovers, they are great warmed up and served for breakfast with eggs.  Filiberto Islas said this is called Enchiladas de Caballo.

Enchiladas de Caballo

Enchiladas  a Caballo

My sincere thanks to Elda and Armida for the lesson and a lovely afternoon!

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Want more recipes for delicious food with a Southwest twist?  My book The New Southwest Cookbook contains recipes from top restaurant and resort chefs throughout the Southwest, using our local ingredients for mouthwatering dishes. You can find it at your local bookstore or order it here.   See all my cookbooks at my website. 

 

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Heirloom Beans for Holiday Feasts!

Colorful Christmas lima, also known as Chestnut lima, will keep some of its purple color and its shape in cooking.  Photo by Muffin Burgess

Colorful Christmas lima, also known as chestnut lima, will keep some of its purple color and its shape in cooking. Photo by Muffin Burgess

Among beans, Christmas Lima is a giant not only in size but in flavor!  This heirloom Phaseolus lunatus is dramatic mottled purple and white, and lends itself to many colorful dishes.  Try a holiday tip from the Heirloom Bean Queen “Tia Pan Dulce”—sure to please vegetarian and omnivore alike:  Curried Christmas Limas!

The evening before cooking, sort and wash ½ lb of dry Christmas Limas.  Presoak overnight in plenty of water (at least a qt) as they will swell.  Next day give remaining water to your compost and add a qt of fresh drinking water.  Simmer limas without salt until they test tender (1 ½-2hrs stove top; 2-3hrs solar oven; 3-5 hrs crock pot).  Some people prefer them al dente.  I like them soft and done through but not mushy.  Reserve the bean liquid.

Saute ½ cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped celery, ½ cup thin-sliced winter squash, and ½ cup chopped sweet pepper in olive oil and stir in 2 tsp curry powder.  (My favorite curry powder is from Santa Cruz Chile and Spice Co, available at most southern Arizona groceries.  If you are ever in the Tubac area give yourself an olfactory adventure by visiting the SC Spice Co outlet just south of Tumacacori Mission Nat Hist Park.)

Add cooked limas to the veggie curry stir-fry adding either veggie stock or the reserved bean liquid as needed.  Simmer on low heat until flavors are blended (about 1/2 hr) and salt to taste.  Serve with brown rice or polenta for a complete protein complement.

(Here’s another idea to try with cooked Christmas limas:  If they keep their shape as individual beans when done, you can serve them as veggie hors d’oeuvres with toothpicks dipped in your favorite sauce.  Try BBQ or Asian or chilpotle sauce.  They are better than meatballs and much healthier!)

If you want to GROW Christmas limas for yourself, save a few seed out of the bag you find at Sunday’s Heirloom farmers’ market or at the Native Seeds/SEARCH store (3061 N Campbell, Tucson).  Plant them in April where they can vine their way up a trellis in dappled light or into a low-growing tree.  They are long-season, so plan on tending them thru heat of May and June until the monsoons give them a boost.  You will be climbing the tree or trellis to harvest big pods in the fall, ready for homegrown holiday cookery next year.

Bright and beautiful Four Corners Gold beans are used in the traditional winter ceremony by the Zuni.  These beans are truly light-returning and life-renewing.  photo by Muffin Burgess

Bright and beautiful Four Corners Gold beans are truly light-returning and life-renewing.  photo by Muffin Burgess

An important heirloom for the season– used by Native cultures of the Southwest since time-immemorial to celebrate the Winter Solstice—is the festive yellow and white Four Corners Gold Bean (aka Zuni Gold).  It will lend itself to any hearty dish you may want to have simmering in a crock pot ready to drive off any chill from ski-ing, hiking, cycling, or dog-walking thru these short wintry days.  Try them in a bean soup with an oxtail from Jojoba Beef at the farmers’ market; or as chile beans with Native Seeds/SEARCH’s amazing chilpotle chile powder; or as a dip mashed with a Tarahumara bean masher, dashes of Red Devil tabasco sauce and 1 tsp of cumin powder.

"Moon Beans" spiced with Pipian Rojo Mole from Mano y Metate makes an exceptionally festive vegetarian dish!  photo by Muffin Burgess

“Moon Beans” spiced with Pipian Rojo Mole from Mano y Metate makes an exceptionally festive vegetarian dish! photo by Muffin Burgess

My grandmother always served us black-eyed peas for New Year’s telling us grandkids that the number of them we ate was the number of dollars we would make in the new year.  In her tradition of black-eyed peas, as New Year’s approaches, I like to fix a Southwestern version of black-eyes:  Moon Beans!   For a festive flavor try moon beans with pipian rojo mole as a centerpiece dish, adding the prepared mole powder from Mano y Metate in the last half hour of bean cooking.

Solar-cooked Moon Beans can be downright celestial.  If December 30 or 31 is going to be sunny, and if you know you will be “hanging out” available for re-orienting your solar oven every ½ hour or hour, soak your Moon Beans the night before, change the water next day, and in a saucepan with plenty of drinking water add a ham hock and/or chopped onions and veggies to your Moon Beans.  A few hours of solar cookery will provide a New Year’s home-made feast worth a million dollars.

Happy Holiday-time with Heirloom Beans– and Bon appetit from Martha Burgess!  http://www.flordemayoarts.com

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