I often struggle with what to share on these pages. Anecdotes about our daily lives, silly toddler stories and sharing a great meal we had are all pretty safe places, but what about the hard stuff? The difficult things are an important part of our human existence and I find that those are the experiences we bond over most frequently. We all have a struggle in some form and it is in that struggle where we see each others humanity. In a society where we have a screen in front of our faces at all times, it is easy to curate our interaction with the world to miss a lot of that real, vulnerable connection. My hope for this place is to encourage us to be authentic with those around us and to connect in a way we can't through a screen. Allow yourself to share those hard places with someone. Cook dinner, share life.
This week was really hard.
My family life growing up seemed to be filled with more bad weeks than good ones, while we all lived through the constantly repeating repercussions of substance abuse and severe emotional instability. My sisters and I were lucky enough to make it out mostly unscathed, but occasionally the battleground of our childhood resurfaces and we dutifully put on our uniforms and wield our weapons, in hopes of making it through another conflict. In wars past, my inclination has been to attempt to rescue everyone, but this time, I'm all out of energy and all I can do is throw my hands up and retreat, waving my white flag in hopes the enemy that is addiction will leave us alone once and for all.
It amazes me, when I think about it, how much our choices can affect other people. Something as personal as how many drinks we decide to have on any given night can greatly alter the lives of those around us. Those seemingly small, insignificant choices can have a real lasting impact on those we care deeply about. It's likely I am blissfully unaware of most of the ways having an alcoholic father has shaped who I am, however, when the careful balancing act of quiet addiction is thrown out of whack, I'm acutely aware of the affects and their tremendous weight.
We spent the last two weeks dealing with the consequences of his poor decisions. It was painful and confusing and oddly numbing in some ways. By the weekend, I was completely drained. I told my husband that I needed a day where I didn't have to take care of anyone because I really needed to take care of myself. He was happy to give me that time and skipped out on work to support me. I cooked and I stood behind my camera and no one asked anything of me. The enchiladas did exactly what I wanted them to and my sense of control was restored if only for a few hours, and it was perfect.
If you like your food spicy, these will be your jam. I was actually really surprised by the heat, but it's the perfect amount for me. The sour cream lends a reprieve and if you serve these with some rice and beans you'll have a beautifully balanced plate. The tortillas can tear pretty easily, but just give them grace. They still taste great and all that lovely sauce will cover any holes.
In every other tray of enchiladas I've made, I have covered the tortillas completely in sauce. This recipe suggested leaving the edges naked to allow them to get crispy, which added an extra crunchy layer I had never had in an enchilada. It's awesome and I'll never go back.
The extra step of roasting the poblanos is an essential part of this recipe. It takes little effort and really makes the recipe what it is. Resist the temptation to use canned green chiles here, it just won't be the same. Plus, there is something therapeutic in peeling off those skins. Count it as your end of the day de-stress activity.
roasted poblano + chicken enchiladas
makes 10 enchiladas
adapted from this recipe from Sunset Magazine
- 1 1/4 pounds poblano chiles (you can also use anaheim or hatch chiles if you catch them in season)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus a bit more
- 3 3/4 cups reduced-sodium or homemade chicken broth, divided
- 10 corn tortillas (6 1/2 to 8 in. wide)
- 2 cups shredded monterey jack, divided
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (from left overs or a store bought rotisserie chicken)
- Sour cream, for garnish
- Place an oven rack on the second position (or at least 6 inches from the heating element) and another rack on the middle position. Pre-heat the oven to broil. Place the poblanos on a baking sheet and broil on the second rack until very dark, about 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through to blacken evenly. Allow them to cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees.
- When the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the stems, seeds and skin. Roughly chop and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add the chiles and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Cook for a few minutes and then add 1 1/4 cups chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it reduce by a third, about 10 minutes.
- Place the chile mixture into a blender (careful, it's super hot!). Cover with a clean towel and blend on low (to avoid a really big mess), until the mixture looks a lot like pesto. Set aside.
- In the same skillet, add 2 1/2 cups chicken broth and bring it to a gentle simmer. Grab a large baking sheet and set it up next to the stove. Dip a tortilla (until completely covered) into the hot broth to moisten it. Place it on the baking sheet and repeat with another tortilla. Don't let them touch on the baking sheet or they'll stick to each other. Add a pinch (like 2 tablespoons) of cheese to each tortilla and about the same amount of chicken. Give them a small sprinkle of kosher salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. Roll them up and transfer them to a 9x13 baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Pour the chile sauce over the enchiladas, leaving the edges of the tortillas exposed to allow the ends to get a bit crispy, because they're super good that way. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and again, give it a sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, until the cheese is good and melted. Turn the oven to broil, and move the enchiladas to the rack in the second position. Broil until the cheese is browning, about one minute. Garnish with sour cream and have some milk ready. These babies are packing some heat.