Sunday, July 20, 2008

Red Chile Brunch Enchiladas with Spicy Potatoes and Fried Eggs

Tonight's dinner was neat because I made the sauce and potatoes this morning (while baking the jalapeno bread), and then when we got home from Batman, all I had to do was cook the tortillas, put them and the potatoes in the onion, and fry the eggs. Voila! I like when parts can be made ahead because it makes dinner time much simpler.

As for the meal itself, while it was not spicy, it was definitely yummy and we both really liked it. It looked like something out of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on the Food Network. We would definitely make this again. I may even make it for an actual breakfast sometime, so long as I do the sauce and potatoes ahead of time!


Red Chile Brunch Enchiladas with Spicy Potatoes and Fried Eggs (Almuerzo Enchilado)
Mexico: One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless

Working ahead: The sauce can be made ahead (thin it with a little water if it has thickened to more than the consistency of canned tomato sauce), as can the fried-and-chilied potatoes. At the serving time, then, there's not much left besides rewarming the potatoes, searing the tortillas and frying the eggs.Who wants to do more than that on a weekend morning?

4 medium (2 oz total) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 medium (1 oz total) dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4 medium (1 lb total) boiling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rough 1/2-inch cubes
About 6 Tbsp vegetable oil or rich-tasting pork lard
1 small white onion, chopped
8 corn tortillas
4 large eggs
2 loosely packed cups sliced (1/4-inch) frisee (aka curly endive) lettuce - or use romaine if you like it better
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar works nicely here)
1/3 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan

1. THE SAUCE. Heat a dry heavy skillet or griddle over medium. Tear the chiles into flat pieces, then toast them a few at a time: use a metal spatula to press the chile pieces flat against the hot surface, skin side up, until they are aromatic and have lightened in color underneath, about 10 seconds. (If the heat is right, you'll hear a slight crackle when you press them down, but you shouldn't see more than the slightest wisp of smoke). Place in a bowl, cover with 3 cups very hot tap water, lay a small plate on the chiles to keep them submerged and soak 20 minutes to rehydrate.

Use a pair of tongs to transfer the rehydrated chiles to a food processor or blender. Measure 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid and add it to the chiles along with the garlic. Blend to a smooth puree, then push through a medium-mesh strainer into a pie plate. The consistency should be like that of canned tomato sauce. Taste (the sauce will be a little rough on the tongue at this point) and season highly with salt, usually about 1/2 tsp.

2. THE POTATOES. Simmer the potatoes in salted water to cover until just barely tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

In a large (12-inch) skillet (preferably nonstick), heat 2 Tbsp of the oil or lard over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue cooking, turning and scraping up any browned bits, until richly browned and crusty, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the sauce and cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

3. THE ENCHILADAS. While the potatoes are cooking, make the enchiladas. Heat the oven to 350. Place the sauce and tortillas near the stove with a baking sheet beside them. Set a small (8-inch) skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of the oil or lard. When the oil is very hot (just beginning to smoke), dip both sides of a tortilla into the sauce, then lay it in the oil. Let it sear and sizzle for about 20 seconds, then use a small spatula to flip it over. Sear the other side for another 20 seconds. Transfer to the baking sheet, laying it out flat. Adding additional oil to the skillet as needed, continue dipping and frying the remaining tortillas, wiping out the skillet occasionally. Lay the tortillas on the baking sheet in groups of two , about half overlapping each other.

Divide the potatoes among the chile-seared tortillas and place in the oven to warm, 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the large skillet and set over medium to medium-low heat. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil or lard. When warm (not too hot), crack in the eggs, cover the pan, and cook until as done as you like, about 3-4 minutes for set whites and slightly runny yolks.

While the eggs are cooking, in a small bowl, toss the lettuce with the vinegar and a good sprinkling of salt. Put an enchilada-potato stack on each of the four dinner plates and top with a fried egg, then a portion of the dressed lettuce and a generous sprinkling of the grated cheese. You've made your guests a brunch they'll never forget.

Yield: 4 servings

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