Thursday, February 7, 2008

Burrito-enchilada hybrid

We are fans of stuff wrapped in tortillas and covered in melted cheese, around these parts. However, as Ottawans who have never traveled to Mexico or the border states, we have not experienced a whole lot of true, authentic Mexican food - the best we do around here is Tex-Mex or gringo-ified Mexican. Occasionally, we come across a semi-authentic place like Manana in Montreal or El Dorado in, of all places, Whitby, and I eat pato azteca or enchiladas with mole sauce and spend an hour blissing out. But at home, we usually just make tacos or burritos. Tonight I think I crossed over into enchilada territory, but I'm not sure, and Wikipedia isn't helping, so I'm calling dinner a hybrid (enchiladito?), but a damn tasty one.

As usual, though, it wasn't terribly attractive to look at - whole wheat flour tortillas (beige) covered in reduced-fat cheddar cheese (bright orange) alongside a mound of sauteed onions, peppers and zucchini (more beige, with some red and the occasional flash of green), dolloped with sour cream (white).

The filling was ugly, too - but possibly the easiest one ever created. This morning, Chris plunked a 2.5 pound pot roast in the slow cooker, poured a large jar of mild salsa over it, and let it cook away on low for seven hours. I got home, trimmed the fat off the meat, shredded it up and tossed it back into the sauce. Then I dolloped meat into the tortillas, wrapped them up, tucked them into a roasting pan and sprinkled them liberally with cheese. They baked for 20 minutes while I finished sauteeing the veggies, and then we ate them.

Some notes, should you choose to make this: don't be a loser like me, use real cheese. I should honestly know by now that light cheddar tastes OK from the fridge (if oddly chalky in texture), but turns tasteless and slightly crunchy when melted. You deserve better. Also, spray your pan well with oil before tucking the tortilla rolls into it, because otherwise the cheese sticks to the sides and the end ones fall apart when you try to remove them.

The filling made these absolutely incredible, though - saucy, tender and moist beef, savoury and delicious. The sauteed veggies could go inside the tortillas, next time - their sweetness is a great foil to the meat. I ended up piling mine on top of the enchiladito and eating it that way. YUM.

All this takes is a tiny bit of advance planning to cook the meat, and bingo: ten minutes of stuffing and grating cheese when you get home, twenty in the oven, done. With tons of leftovers for the freezer to stuff future tortillas, no less. This pleases me immensely, as it means that one day in the future, I get to be even more lazy than I was tonight, and still eat a fantastic dinner.

Ali's enchiladitos (with thanks to the 3WA slow cooker thread for inspiration)

1 2.5 lb pot roast (mine was inside round)
1 large jar salsa (500mL; I used President's Choice mild)
8 whole wheat tortillas (6-inch diameter)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 large sweet onion
1 small red bell pepper
1 medium green zucchini

sour cream, for serving


Put the roast into a 6-quart slow cooker; pour salsa over and cook 7 hours on low. Remove roast from pot; remove any visible fat left and shred meat. Return to sauce and stir well.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of meat mixture in centre of a tortilla. Fold sides to form a roll and lay it seam-side down into an oiled metal or Pyrex roasting pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tortilla rolls; bake 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet heat 2 tsp of oil over medium heat; add onions and peppers and saute until softened, about ten minutes' add zucchini and cook ten minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve enchiladitos hot with vegetables on side and dollops of sour cream on top. Makes 4 servings.

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