Sunday, 2 March 2008

Spinach Enchiladas

This is an tried and tested recipe of mine. It could do with a little less cream but honestly, without the cream - it would not taste half as good. Besides, I did pull back from the original recipe (it's an Emeril Lagasse recipe so you can imagine the fat content!).

The rich enchilada balanced with a side of salad makes for a slightly different, yet simple meal when a few friends come over. Of course, since most of our friends are non-vegetarians, my husband often makes his salt'n pepper beef too. I'll just forget that for the moment :) and focus on the enchilada.

2 Poblano Chile Peppers (I end up using green bell peppers as I can't find fresh Poblano peppers in London)
2 pounds of fresh spinach, stems removed and well rinsed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
3/4 tbsp chopped garlic
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
salt to taste - about 1/4-1/2 tsp
black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 all purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup queso fresco or queso blanco (I end up using any mild cheese..)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
8-10 corn tortillas
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast the peppers by placing them on an open gas flame, turning them frequently with tongs until all sides are charred black, about 7 to 10 minutes. Place the blackened peppers in a plastic bag, and let rest until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, split in half lengthwise, and discard the seeds and the stems. Roughly chop and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In batches, add the spinach and blanch for 10-15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and shock in an ice bath. Remove and squeeze out the excess. Chop and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter, add the onions and cook until soft (3-4 minutes). Add the garlic, chilli powder, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to make a light roux (2 minutes). Gradually add the half-and-half, and cook, stirring, until thick (2-3 minutes). Add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Remove from the heat and fold in half of the chopped chiles. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. If you want, run through the food processor if you want to combine the ingredients more (I usually do). Then fold in the queso fresco or blanco cheese and set aside.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium temperature. One at a time, add the tortillas to the hot oil and cook, turning, until soft and pliable, 15 seconds per side. Add more oil as needed. Place about 1/2 cup of the spinach mixture into the center of each tortilla and roll up into a cylinder. Place, seam side down, in a single layer across the bottom of a 9 by 9 inch casserole dish.

In a saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to make another light roux. Slowly add the stock and cook, stirring, until thickened (2-3 minutes). Add the cream and cook, stirring until thick (1-2 minutes). Add the remaining poblano peppers and cook for a minute. Pour over the filled enchiladas and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover evenly with the grated Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and enchiladas are completely warmed through (10minutes). Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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