In Search of the Enchilada

EnchiladaI’ve been told over the course of the last two years that my enchiladas are really good. I’ve made these many times over for my wife, and have made them on family vacations. Ok, keyword, family vacations. I do not like to spend much time in the kitchen on vacations, (well, I actually do) so this dish has a few things to it; it is easy to make, it is diverse in what you want to add, and it is delicious.

Keep in mind, when you are at a restaurant where they serve enchiladas, you will most likely have your choice of chicken, beef, or pork. Seriously, this recipe will handle either meat product well, or heck, if you chose, lose the meat.

IngredientsLet’s discuss the simple ingredients. I should note that you could really do sauce, corn tortillas, and cheese, and I bet they would be really nice, however here is what I have used in the past, of which, have served up to 15 people.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken, cooked and shredded
  • diced whole onion
  • fresh tomato, diced
  • monterrey jack cheese, lots
  • enchilada sauce
  • cooking oil
  • corn tortillas
  • whatever else you want to throw in

Here is the process, of which is super simple. Trust me, this meal is a throw together in less than 20 minutes.

Naked EnchiladaCook your meat however you want. In my case, I grilled the chicken breast. Let it cool, then shredded.
While the chicken is cooking, dice your onion and tomato and set aside. Also during this time, heat nearly 1/4 cup of oil in a pan, round enough to fit a corn tortilla. Please do this part, as the warmed, oil, tortilla really brings out texture and flavor of this dish. Once the oil is warmed, place a tortilla in the pan for nearly 20 seconds. Then with your tongs, pick up the tortilla and add once underneath. Continue this process, stacking the tortillas, depending on how many you are cooking. I cooked eight the other night, of which fed the family for two days. Ok, once tortillas cook for 30 seconds or so, take the stack and let them cool, covered with paper towel as to let the oil soak through a bit.

Enchilada SauceLets assume everything is ready. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. During this time, have your cheese, sauce, meat, and ingredients ready. Do the wrap. Grab your tortilla (get over the fact that it has some oil on it, you can wash your hands later), place some cheese, meat, sauce, onion, and whatever else inside it, BUT, keep in mind that you have to be able to fold this thing and place it in a pan. Continue this process with the rest of the tortillas. Once the pan is full, or the tortillas are gone, add the remaining sauce on top of the naked enchiladas. Cover with cheese, and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Get your enchilada on. P.S. I like mine spicy, so you can add chipolte sauce, hot sauce, or chili flake. 🙂

Wrap Your Wiener, Seriously…

If you’ve never wrapped your wiener, you should. It is the best thing, or at least one of the better things that have came through this house this summer. My wife has always talked about going to her grandma’s cottage when she was young. She would be called in for lunch up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the summer months, and her and her sisters would rush in, and say “oh… hot dogs!” and their grandma would say “nope, their wieners!”. Ever since then, when I mention hot dogs, or wieners, I stand corrected in some way or another. Here is what I know. Hot dogs are the stuff you buy in packages, typically Oscar Mayer. Wieners on the other hand are what you purchase from the deli.

Bacon Wrapper WienerHere is my take on the difference between the hot dog and the wiener. The wiener tastes better and has more of ‘snap’ when biting into it. Hot dogs on the other hand, are simply easy to cook and have less of a snap, still delicious, salt, and fun for most everyone if you get past the fact that they are ‘lips and assholes’ from the pig. 🙂

Anyway, I love both the wiener and the hot dog. Regardless, this past week, I had a serious craving for a chicago hot dog. So, I put it in place, however this time, I did it with a twist. I started off with wieners, however, I wrapped them with a slice of bacon. Bacon, you ask? Yes, bacon. The thing that makes pork or whatever a wiener is, even better, TRUST ME.

Take a wiener, wrap it in bacon, and cook it on the grill. Heck, wrap several of them because, TRUST ME, you will want another one. Once the bacon cooks on the grill over medium to low heat, butter up (optional) some fresh buns, and place them on the grill for a few minutes; careful not to burn.

Bacon Wrapper WienerOnce you are ready to place, take the wieners and buns off the grill. Here is how I had mine. The kids and my wife set theirs up differently.

Bacon wrapped wiener on a bun.
Thin slice of cheese on the side
Mustard, Ketchup
Fresh tomato
Sauerkraut
Onion
TRUST ME. Wrap your wiener from here on out. It is worth it.

Popcorn

PopcornI believe the first thing my parents allowed me to cook on the stove was popcorn, at least that is what I recall. My parents stove at the time was gas, so as you can imagine, me, being in middle school and cooking on a gas stove was pretty cool. Popcorn has always been a favorite snack of mine. Whether it be in the day, night, or heck, even for breakfast, it is something that I will always enjoy. There are countless memories with my grandparents, and now with my own kids, where popcorn has been present. I believe that my parents allowing me to cook on the stove at a young age, and in particular, cooking popcorn, has allowed me to master the snack. I find it funny that my wife was brought up the same way, doing the same on the stove, so it is always funny to compete with one another when making popcorn. After all, she does make great popcorn.

Please note that microwave popcorn is for the weak, and only the weak.

Ingredients:

  • Good popcorn (heck, I use Orville Redenbacher)
  • Canola Oil
  • Butter
  • Salt

PopcornIn a large, deep pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Let sit for nearly one minute on medium to high heat. Add two seeds to the oil and cover with a lid. Within a couple of minutes the corn should pop. Add seeds to cover the bottom of the pan, and place the lid back on. Shake the pan to coat the seeds. Reduce the heat to medium. Get ready to shake it baby as the seeds are getting ready to pop. As the corn is popping, begin to shake the pan so not to burn the corn. Within minutes your corn will be ready, and most, if not all seeds should pop.

Please note that during the popping stage, I heat a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of butter and let that melt down. Once the corn is ready, empty it into a large bowl, salt, and add butter. Toss the corn as to coat with butter and salt. You might add more butter or salt depending on your mood. 🙂

My kids absolutely love the popcorn. In due time, they will begin the cooking process as my wife and I once did, and continue to do.

Please note that you can also use other toppings such as parmesan cheese, chili powder, and tabasco sauce. Are there toppings that you have used that are not listed? If so, let me know.

Giddy Up, It’s Beef Jerky Time

Beef JerkyThere is something that I truly love as a snack, or for that matter, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and that is beef jerky. I fell in love with this snack when I was roughly nine or ten years old. It all started with a tin of jerky. Looked similar to that of chewing tobacco. My dad also had a love for jerky, and he began to smoke, bake, and dehydrate meat combinations to find the perfect jerky. In my opinion, they were all delicious. My desire to get on the jerky train was all started a few weeks back when my brother-n-law (Mike) and I were at a store while on vacation. We decided we would buy some Corona beer, as it was a hot summer day. Upon check-out, there was a tube full of homemade jerky. This was no slim jim type jerky, and nor would I ever consider slim jims as beef jerky. That is just slim sausage. Anyway, both of us were like “yeah, dude, jerky”.

That day, I told Mike “I’m making this stuff!”. I started with the source, my dad. He sent me a recipe to begin with, and of course I tweaked it with some other ingredients. I wanted to use my smoker to slow cook the meat, however my dad informed me to place it in the oven for 10 hours at a low heat, in my case 140 degrees with the oven slightly cracked.

Here is what I did, along with ingredient breakdown:

Ingredients:

  • 2 flank steaks cut against the grain, 1/4 inch strips, or to your liking
  • garlic powder
  • a 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of worcestershire sauce
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • chili powder
  • oyster sauce
  • aluminum foil

Beef JerkyPlace the cutup meat into a large ziploc bag. Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly in the bag. Add the dry ingredients and begin to massage the meat from the outside, that way you are not touching the meat. 🙂 Seal the bag and place in a bowl in case of any leaks. Marinade overnight or 24 hours or so.

When you are ready to get jerky, take the meat out and pat dry. Cover 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature, in my oven’s case 140 degrees. My dad did stress that the oven door need to remain open. He also stated that the smell of the house in the morning would be so great that we would be jumping around like a bunch of monkeys; something like that.

I woke early that morning and immediately checked the oven and took the jerky out. You could tell it lost ‘weight’ and my dad was right about the smell (not that I needed to smell delicious meat like that at 7am).

I kid you not, the jerky was awesome. A bit salty, but for the first batch and getting a process nailed down, it was killer. I served it throughout the day as it was my daughter Elena’s birthday party, and literally, it was almost all gone.

My hats off to Mike for getting my brain thinking about making jerky, and to my parents for handing down their experience and recipe. Watch out for upcoming jerky recipes!