Huevos divorciados

For anyone who can’t decide if they want salsa roja or salsa verde with their eggs, Huevos divorciados is for you. This whimsically named breakfast features two different salsas, red and green, which separate — divorce — the eggs to make a colorful breakfast plate. With just the two of us, I don’t usually keep more than one salsa on hand, but with some salsa roja in the fridge, leftover from queso fundido a few days ago, and a bag of tomatillos waiting to be turned into salsa verde, this was a good time to make huevos divorciados. Serve with beans for a heartier breakfast.

Salsas can be fresh or cooked. Cooked salsas are made by grilling, broiling, simmering, or toasting the veg ingredients in a dry skillet, then blending. Or you can blend first, then “fry” the ingredients in a skillet. The salsa verde used here is a “fried” salsa, but you could use any cooking method.

If you can corral a helper, one of you can cook the eggs while the other spoons the two salsas on the tortillas. That way, eggs, tortillas and salsa all come together still warm. Runny yolks are best so that the yolk pools into the salsa, creating a visual and palate pleasing desayuno (breakfast). Russ’es unprompted assessment: This is very good!

Huevos Divorciados serves 4

  1. Fry eggs over-easy or sunny-side-up.
  2. Place 2 warm tortillas on each of 4 plates. Spread one tortilla on each plate with salsa roja, and the remaining tortillas with salsa verde.
  3. Top with 1 egg per tortilla.
  4. Serve with optional beans.

Salsa Verde

  • 14-16 large tomatillos, quartered
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or lard)
  1. Purée all ingredients in a blender, except olive oil, until mostly puréed, but with some little chunks remaining.
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet, and add tomatillo mixture. The skillet should be hot enough that the tomatillo mixture sputters when poured in. Stir down the sputter.
  3. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water if too thick.
  4. Adjust for salt.

Notes ~

~ Tomatillos originated in Mexico and have been used since the pre-Columbian era. Providing a fruity-acid flavor to sauces and stews, they are most commonly used for making salsa verde. Their high pectin content can thicken leftover salsa (thin with water if this happens). They have a papery husk which is removed before cooking. The name is derived from the Nahuatl word, tomatl, and is pronounced toh-ma-TEE-oh.

~ Cilantro is an annual herb much more common on Mexican plates than parsley. All parts of the plant are used, including the tender stems which are as flavorful as the leaves. The dry seeds are the spice, coriander. In some parts of the world, the fresh herb is also known as coriander, or Chinese parsley. For about one-quarter of the population, cilantro has an offensive, soapy taste. To all who can’t enjoy cilantro, take my word that its unique taste gives Mexican dishes an unparalleled flavor.

© 2009-2020 COOKING IN MEXICO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Enfrijoladas

Enfrijoladas are basically hot tortillas dipped in a bean sauce, and topped with garnishes of cotija cheese, cilantro and onion. That’s it, a simple, satisfying desayuno or almuerzo — breakfast or late morning meal. In southern Mexico, black beans are seasoned with chile cola de rata, rat tail chiles, so called because of their shape, and toasted avocado leaves. Since I have neighbors with avocado trees, their leaves are easy to come by, but if your Mexican grocery store doesn’t have dried avocado leaves in stock, they can be ordered online.

Enfrijoladas are more common in Oaxaca and southern Mexico, and are made with black beans, frijole negro. I also use frijole perujuano, because they are the common bean here in Jalisco, but use what you have.

Enfrijoladas

  • 3 cups cooked beans, with their broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 cola de rata chiles, broken in half and seeds shaken out if you prefer less heat
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced in half
  • 4 large avocado leaves, toasted and crushed, stems and veins removed
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 -12 corn tortillas
  • shredded, cooked chicken, optional
  • Cotija cheese, cilantro and chopped onion for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion, garlic and chiles. Cook until onion is translucent and starting to color.
  2. . Puree onion mixture with oregano and crushed avocado leaves (don’t use stems and veins) in a blender with 1/2 cup water.
  3. Add beans and blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary for a thick, cream-like consistency. Pour into a skillet and keep warm over a low heat. Adjust for salt.
  4. Brush tortillas lightly with olive oil, and cook in a hot skillet for about 10 seconds per side, just long enough to soften. One at a time, dip each tortillas in the bean sauce, fold into quarters, and serve garnished with cotija cheese, chopped onion and cilantro.
  5. As an option, enfrijoladas can be filled with shredded chicken and folded in half (below).

Notes ~

~ Only Persea drymifolia, the native Mexican avocado, has the characteristic anise flavor. The leaf should release an anise aroma when toasted and crushed. Toast the leaves in a dry skillet or over a gas flame.

~ Cola de rata chiles are also known as chile de árbol or bird’s beak chile. Rating between 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units, they are considered very hot.

~ Traditionally, enfrijoladas are made with lard, but my tastes run more toward olive oil. If you don’t object to using animal products, by all means use it. Without getting into all the details, lard was greatly discredited to promote Crisco, but has regained favor. The culinary world values its high smoke point, high melting point and flavor.

~ Cotija cheese, hard, dry and salty, is used as a garnish on bean dishes, enchiladas, chilaquiles and much more. Well stocked supermarkets in the U.S. carry it (I don’t know if it’s common in Canada). Substitutions would be queso ańejo or feta cheese.

© 2009-2020 COOKING IN MEXICO ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Enchiladas Suizas, with a Side of Trepidation

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I could start off as though the last time you heard from me was last week, or even last month. I could ignore the issue altogether. But I’ll face it head-on and take the consequences. (Deep breath.) Here goes, my version of Truth or Dare: I haven’t posted anything new since October, 2011.

Still with me?

Since my laptop went kaput, I’m now working on a 7″ Samsung tablet, typing with my thumbs, and taking photos with the tablet. If I can get through this post on Enchiladas Suizas without wearing out my thumbs, get halfway decent photos and place them where they belong, maybe this will work. But it does have a Lilliputian quality to it, with a small screen and smaller keyboard.

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Several weeks ago,  I made a tasty dish of Enchiladas Suizas — Swiss Enchiladas for you non-Spanish speakers — and the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Gee, this would be a great recipe to share on the blog. If I were still blogging.” A few days later, while replying to a reader’s comment (yes, the comments still kept coming, and readership stayed surprisingly high during my overly long sabbatical), I read over some past comments. One reader wrote. “Thank you so much for all the information! It has fueled my passion for Mexican cooking and culture. I wish you were still writing.” That was the tipping point. I had a decent recipe, and someone wanted to hear from me again. So to Sydney, and all the others (mostly biased family members) who asked me to continue, I’m back. And here for you is a recipe added only recently to Mexican cookbooks.

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Enchiladas Suizas originated at Sanborns, a well-known department store chain in Mexico’s larger cities and towns, and known for their restaurants’ consistently good, traditional Mexican fare. The story goes that a chef at Sanborns created this recipe in 1950 when he added cream to salsa verde. His dairy-heavy enchiladas took on the name “suiza” (Swiss) as homage to the country of Alps and cows.

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I researched my cookbook shelves and could only find a recipe in a booklet by El Universal, a national newspaper in Mexico which published over a dozen recipe booklets specializing in recipes of the states of Mexico. The booklet for the state of Mexico and Distrito Federal (aka Mexico City) included Enchiladas Suizas, which is fitting, as the Sanborns in Mexico City is this dish’s birthplace. There are a number of online recipes, and Saveur’s recipe looked most appealing. Plus, I love their magazines. This is mostly Saveur’s recipe, influenced by El Universal. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

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A trip to the local tienda was first, to buy fresh crema from a rancho south of Puerto Vallarta, freshly made queso añejo — used to garnish the frijoles refritos which you may or may not choose to serve on the side, tomatillos, cilantro, and corn tortillas hot off the press. We had already brought a roasted chicken home from Costco. How we ever managed without Costco in Puerto Vallarta is hard to imagine. Did you know that the roasted chicken at Costco in the US is organic and is about as cheap as you can buy an organic chicken anywhere? Sadly, the chickens here at Mexico’s Costcos are not organic, but I am ever hopeful, as new organic items show up on their shelves almost every week.

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Enchiladas Suizas, with a filling of shredded chicken breast, encased in tender corn tortillas and smothered in a salsa verde, a creamy green sauce, plus melted cheese, does not go back hundreds of years in Mexico, but it is showing up on more and more menus in Mexico.


Enchiladas Suizas (Swiss Enchiladas)        Serves 4

Adapted from Saveur, July 16, 2012 issue, and El Universal recipe booklet, Cocina Estado por Estado, issue No. 10

  • 1 1/2 lbs. (680 grams) husked tomatillos
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • 1 cup (1.38 oz./38 g.) chopped cilantro, including tender stems
  • 1 cup (240 g.) sour cream (or crème fraîche, or, if in Mexico, crema)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil as needed for skillet
  • 3 cups (12 oz./375 g.) cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./170 g.) grated cheese (Manchego, Swiss, or mozzarella)
  • 8 corn tortillas 
  • Chopped red onion, additional sour cream and cilantro leaves for garnish 
  1. In a hot skillet, under a broiler, or on a hot grill, toast tomatillos, serrano chiles, halved onion, garlic and poblano chiles until blistered black spots start to appear. Blacken most of the poblano skin. Don’t overcook the tomatillos or they will burst and lose their juice.
  2. To make sauce, cut serrano and poblano chiles in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a spoon. Lay poblano and serrano halves on a cutting board skin side up and scrape off blistered skin with a serrated knife, spearing the chiles with a fork to protect your fingers from chile burn. Don’t worry if some skin doesn’t come off. Texture is good. Coarsely chop chiles, onion and garlic. Process in a blender with cilantro and sour cream until smooth. Salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. Moisten shredded chicken with one cup of sauce. Set aside.
  4. Lightly oil a hot skillet and heat tortillas, two at a time, until soft, about one minute per side. Don’t allow to become crisp. As you soften tortillas, spoon 1/4 cup of hot chicken filling down the center of each, roll up, and place in a dish. Repeat with two more tortillas, oiling skillet as necessary, until all are filled.
  5. Cover the bottom of a 9″x9″ oven-proof dish with a generous layer of sauce. Arrange enchiladas over sauce, cover with more sauce, again generously, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Heat in a 350 F. (180 C.) oven until hot and the cheese has melted.
  6. Garnish with thinned sour cream (or crème fraîche or crema) and top with finely chopped red onion and a few cilantro leaves. Any remaining sauce can be served in a separate dish if more sauce is desired.

Notes

~ Tomatillos, pictured in the center of the second photo, are a member of the ground cherry family. They add a distinctive tang and tartness to dishes, and are indispensable in salsa verde. The husks are inedible.

~ When assembling, I used very hot sauce and chicken filling. This way, the enchiladas only needed to be in the oven long enough to melt the cheese. The longer the dish is in the oven, the more sauce is absorbed, which is not a bad thing.

~ Another option is to heat individual servings of two enchiladas per person on a heat-proof plate, following the same instructions above.

~ This recipe makes extra salsa verde. Use on potatoes, pasta, eggs and grilled meat.

~ Leftover enchiladas are wonderful for breakfast with a fried egg.


Licuado de Nopal– Cactus in a Glass

Licuado de nopal, a cactus smoothie, has recently become my new favorite breakfast drink. I had it few years ago at nearby El Tigre Golf Club’s Sunday Brunch, and then promptly forgot all about it until I read about this green drink last week on Muy Bueno Cookbook. Their (always) gorgeous photos helped inspire me to make it, and it turned out awesome.

Muy Bueno Cookbook uses water in their recipe, though Yvette, the main MBC hermana, writes me that she is now using fruit in her daily drink. The first time I made it, I used cut-up watermelon, including the seeds, instead of water. The taste was delicious, but the color was murky green, so you will not see a photo of that version. Today I made it with freshly squeezed orange juice. Not only was it a beautiful, green color, it tasted refreshing.  Licuado de nopal  has become a part of  my morning routine. After drinking a glass this morning, I took a 30-minute power walk, something I used to do until a month ago when the morning chill and dark made me lazy. Now Chucha and I are walking again, right after my green refresher.

Licuado de Nopal serves 2

  • 2 medium-sized nopal pads, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice or 1 cup cut-up watermelon or other fresh fruit
  • 2 mint leaves, optional, plus more for garnish
  1. Add all ingredients to blender and zizz until smooth.
  2. Pour over ice (optional) and add mint leaf for garnish.

Notes:

Nopales are the young, tender “paddle” leaves of Opuntia cactus, the common prickly pear cactus of Mexico and the American Southwest. They are eaten as a vegetable all over Mexico and are found in Mexican grocery stores in the US, as I learned last year when I visited Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Nopales are quite prickly to handle if the spines have not been removed, but if you buy them in a grocery store, they are already de-spined. We have a thriving prickly pear cactus in our yard (photo above, with an agave in the foreground), but I don’t harvest its pads. Every time I tried, I became a human pin cushion, my fingers stuck with impossible-to-see, minute spines. Mexicans must be born with the knowledge of how to de-spine prickly pear pads, but I lack this skill. I’m now content to buy them from the supermarket and leaving the handsome specimen in my yard untouched.

A bit of etymology and history: Nopal is from the Nahuatl word, nopalli, meaning pads.  An Aztec legend tells of finding a new homeland by looking for an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a snake. On this spot, Tenochtitlan (meaning place of nopal cactus), was settled, taking its name from nochtli, another Nahuatl word for nopal. Tenochtitlan is present day Mexico City, and this image of the eagle on the cactus is depicted on the Mexican flag.

If you live in a small Mexican town, like I do, you will find fresh nopal, de-spined and either whole or pre-cut, at your local carnicería, the meat market. I have no explanation for why they are sold at carnicerías and not in the produce section at the little, corner grocery stores. In large supermarkets, they will be in the produce section, where you will also find sugar, another puzzlement for me.

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Enfrijoladas with avocado and tomatillo salsa

Enfrijoladas are on the menu at La Cascada restaurant in La Cruz. This elegant, yet simple dish is nothing more than tortillas covered with bean sauce . “Bean sauce?”, you might ask. Yes, bean sauce. Beans, thinned to a sauce-like consistency and coating the tortillas, with some avocado, queso fresco and crema on top. That’s all it is, and boy, is it good. You can top it with a salsa verde if you want, but it is also good without a salsa if you want something simple to prepare.

Like much of my cooking, this is a cobbled together recipe. An avocado and tomatillo salsa recipe from Epicurious. Part of an enfriolada recipe from my new cookbook by Diana Kennedy, Oaxaca al Gusto. And another part of an enfrijolada recipe from Bon Appetit that I made a number of years ago when we were replacing our roof.  Back then, we had a simple, traditional Mexican roof that was nothing more than tiles stacked across wooden beams. That day, the day I made enfrijoladas, all the tiles had been removed and the entire house was exposed to the shining sun, with the clouds and the birds overhead. I could look up and see the swaying bamboo outside the kitchen door. But I wasn’t seeing it out the door. I was looking at the rustling bamboo through the gaping hole where our tile roof used to be.

After such a unusual day of seeing the roof removed, the workers finally left, and I was faced with making dinner in my disordered, discombobulated kitchen. (See photo here of my exposed kitchen.) We could have gone out to eat. Or I could have made something easy like sandwiches or omelets. Instead, I found a favorite 2003 Bon Appetit magazine, one of their “Special Collector Editions” with Soul of Mexico on the cover. I had already read every recipe six or eight times and was especially intrigued by the one for enfrijoladas, because I, too, said, “Bean sauce?” Here is my version, inspired by Bon Appetit and Diana Kennedy.

Enfrijoladas with Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa serves 4

Salsa:

  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g.)tomatillos (also known as tomate verde), husked, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium serrano chiles with seeds, minced
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium avocados, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (50 ml.) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • salt
  • Process tomatillos and serranos in food processor until coarse puree forms.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat  and add onion, cooking until translucent.
  • Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
  • Add tomatillo puree to onion mixture, and cook 3 minutes, stirring.
  • Spoon salsa into a bowl and stir in avocado and cilantro.
  • Salt to taste.

Refritos:

  • 2  tablespoons olive oil (or lard if you really want to be authentic)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups (28 oz./800 g.) cooked beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon ground comino (cumin)
  • water as needed
  • 1 dozen heated corn tortillas
  • Sliced avocado and chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Crema (sour cream or crème fraiche)
  • Heat skillet over medium-low hat and add oil to pan.
  • Saute onion and serrano chile until onion is translucent.
  • Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, stirring.
  • Add cooked beans, oregano, comino, and enough water to make it soupy.
  • Simmer 10  minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Mash to a puree with a bean masher (potato masher) or in a food processor, adding more water to make it very soupy.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Dip hot tortillas in bean sauce, coating both sides generously with bean puree and roll up or fold into quarters or halves.
  • Spoon bean puree on each plate and place folded tortillas on puree, spooning more puree on top of tortillas.
  • Garnish with avocado slices, grated cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Serve avocado and tomatillo salsa and crema on the side.


Notes:

I used flor de mayo beans for this recipe, because I can buy organic flor de mayo at Mega (gracias a dios!). In Oaxaca, black beans are used to make enfrijoladas. Pinto beans would make a fine substitute.

Remove seeds or not from the serrano chiles, depending on your own level of heat tolerance. I found that removing half the seeds was just right for our taste.

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