Part XXXIII: Reverberate
I’m on the fence about this Americanized Mexican food stuff.
Mostly, I think it’s pretty atrocious. We basically stole something from a culture thousands of years older than us, who came up with some of the most delicious flavor combos on this Earth (have you tasted elote? HAVE YOU?!), and made it crappy, D-grade nonsense. I don’t get a huge erection every time I hear the word “organic”, but I also imagine there’s a hell of a difference between a tortilla that’s been made by a weathered old Incan pounding maize for 5 hours and something that’s coughed into your hand by the local Taco Bell imp for $1.50. Not that I consider myself fully educated on the matter. I’ve never actually been to Mexico, mostly because I enjoy having a fully intact head, so I can’t say I’ve tried the real thing. But I feel like I know enough to know that our version and theirs aren’t even close.
On the other hand…I like more of our stuff than I’d like to admit. I like the Chipotles, the cheap-ass taco trucks, the burrito joints on the Florida coast. I like those because they know they’re not the real deal, but they’ve made themselves identifiable and different enough that nobody mistakes them for the authentic article. I also like them because, well, they taste good. Sure it’s not authentic, but it’s meat and cheese and spices in a tortilla…are you really gonna complain that much?
So, as much as I hate timing my stuff to the holidays, I decided to go with the whole Cinco de Mayo thing and do up some Shredded Beef Enchiladas with Green Chiles. They’re stolen as hell, but hey, it’s not like we didn’t steal Cinco de Mayo to begin with (shout-out to Thanksgiving, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and basically every other holiday we’ve thieved from someone else’s culture. Which is pretty much all of them.)
Here’s what you need:
– 3 lbs beef chuck roast
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 1/2 cups beef broth
– 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 2 teaspoons chili powder
– 1 tablespoon ground cumin
– 1 large onion
– 2 4oz. cans chopped green chiles
– 1 tablespoon AP flour
– 2 cups sour cream
– 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
– 10 mini flour tortillas (6 inch preferably)
Here’s how you do it:
First, place that big ol’ slab of beef you got in a large saucepan. Pour in the water, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer for 30 minutes on low or medium. Whatever the lowest temperature you can get it to simmer is.
Once that’s done, turn up the heat to medium-high and brown the roast on both sides, should be about five minutes a side, give or take.
When most of the water’s boiled away, stir in the broth, vinegar, cumin and chili powder, then cover it again and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer for at least two hours (it took me two and a half), until the beef is easily shreddable. You don’t really have to worry about overdoing this one, the longer you simmer it, the more it’s gonna break down and become all tender and delicious. Just check on it every once and a while, you don’t want to go from shreddable to flammable.
Take the beef out of your pan, put it in a bowl, and go all Wolverine on its ass. You want this to be shredded pretty thin, since it’s gonna be rolled up in those tiny tortillas. Once that’s done, put the beef back in the pan and take it off the heat.
Next, pour a little olive oil into a skillet and saute your onion. You want it to be soft, but not brown, so that should be about 2-3 minutes on medium-high.
Mix in the flour and green chiles, and stir for two minutes.
Put the sour cream and two cups of the cheese in and stir it around on low for about 10 minutes. Basically just stir until everything’s melted and combined. Take that off the heat as well.
Preheat your oven to 375, then start rolling your tortillas. You want to put a little beef and a little cheese sauce in each, don’t be a fatass and overload the thing. The key to making this really good is having each tortilla be a little self-contained pocket of flavor, and you can’t do that if they all fall apart in the oven.
As you roll them, arrange the tortillas in an 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or whatever the hell you have lying around) until its full, then pour the rest of the cheese sauce on top. Sprinkle the other cup of shredded cheese on top after that, then stick the whole thing in the oven for 30 minutes.
And stick this in your brain oven. It’s Dan the Automator’s most excellent remix of Willie Bobo’s Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries, off the Verve Remixed collection:
You get a sense, when you’re making that monstrosity, of just how Americanized this stuff can be. I mean, when you boil the whole thing down, it’s basically 4 steps:
1. Cook a huge slab of meat in some spices.
2. Melt a crapton of cheese and cream.
3. Put all that in some tortillas.
Guess what: you didn’t just make a traditional Mexican dish, you made a hamburger casserole with tortillas in it. Welcome to the United States of diabetes; enjoy your stay. I know I will.
In the spirit of thievery and being boring/American, I stole this recipe from the most generic site on Earth: