Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Five: Cream Cheese Hatch Enchiladas & Calabacitas

Chile peppers are the mysterious and highly addictive vegetable that may cause brows to sweat, noses to run, eyes to tear, and alas, guttural hiccups upon overdose. It’s a painfully pleasant experience we in the Southwest have become addicted to (some of us from birth, some of us have grown into it)!

The noble chile plant has been a part of New Mexico’s culture and cuisine since the early 1600s when the Spanish first planted along the fertile Rio Grande valley. Hundreds of years later, the powerfully pungent pod remains dear to New Mexicans. Although chile is now grown worldwide, New Mexicans self-assuredly declare “our pods are peerless.”

Chiles range in color from yellow to green to red to black. Some are long, slender and no thicker than a swizzle stick while others are rotund and nearly spherical (check out these crazy chiles on Donna's Blog, My Tasty Treasures). They vary in length from 1/2 inch to 12-inches, nope don't go applying that logic to the photos linked above! Some chiles are spicier, and others are hotter - usually the smaller the chile, the fiercer its bite.

Now that I've made a habit of opening this week's posts with tidbits of chile info I had to make sure to spice up this post similarly! Time to get down to business, today's Hatch recipe is Cream Cheese Enchiladas con Hatch and Calabacitas.

Cream Cheese Enchiladas con Hatch

12oz Softened Cream Cheese
5-6 (depending upon desired heat) roasted, seeded and chopped Hatch Chiles
14-18 Softened Corn Tortillas (depends on how tightly you roll and fill your enchiladas as to how many you'll need)
1 12oz Can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, I highly recommend Hatch Brand
1 Cup Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 Lb Fajita Chicken (I cheated with mine and used the frozen pre-cooked fajitas but you could easily grill a few chicken breasts and slice them into fajitas)

1. Preheat the oven to 375, grease a large 13x9 baking pan.
2. Combined cream cheese, chopped chiles and chicken in a large bowl.
3. Place 1 tbsp chicken/cream cheese/chile mix inside (plus at least one piece of chicken) a tortilla, roll gently and place inside pan. Continue until all tortillas and mix have been used up.
4. Pour Enchilada Sauce over the pan full of enchiladas. Evenly distribute cheese over the top of the sauce.
5. Bake 30 minutes (or until browned and bubbling on top).

*Now, a few notes are necessary - I did take a short cut and use frozen chicken fajita strips (I had a ton of them in the freezer) which turned out moist and delicious, you could also substitute canned chicken (my mom has a great recipe where she does that) or you could grill and slice up chicken fresh for the recipe, just depends on how much time you have.

As to how best to soften corn tortillas, my mom always has done it where she puts a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and places the tortillas she wants to soften inside the bag. Then reheats them in the microwave for 30 seconds at a careful they get steamy hot but it's a great trick!

3 Zucchini, Cut into Rounds
1/2 Cup Diced Tomato
1/2 Cup Diced Sweet Onion
2 Cobs of Corn, Cut off the Cob
1 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
4 Seeded, Roasted, Chopped Hatch Chiles
1 Tsp Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp Olive Oil

1. Spread zucchini rounds on a large baking sheet, spray with olive oil/vegetable oil and roast at 425 for 5-10 minutes, until the start to just slightly turn brown. Remove from oven.
2. Preheat a large skillet with olive oil at medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until onion is tender.
3. Add remaining vegetables and seasoning, saute until everything is cooked through.

My take on calabacitas is minus any kind of dairy product (there are many delicious recipes out there involving cheese) but it's was intentional, I decided there was plenty of cheese to be found amongst the enchiladas!


Katherine Aucoin said...

I can't take my eyes off those enchiladas!

doggybloggy said...

.....and calabacitas too - thats it! I am done! I can smell these foods you are posting and it just isnt fair!

Gloria Chadwick said...

Wow! You're outdoing yourself here. Totally delicious recipes. I've made cream cheese chicken enchiladas with Hatch green chile sauce many times but never added fresh roasted Hatch chiles. That's gonna change real soon.
I cheated on my Hatch fajitas (just posted them last night) by using the frozen, pre-cooked fajita breast strips, too. Makes life easier and they're really good. :)

Chef Fresco said...

Ohh yum! We love some mexican!

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

The enchiladas sound amazing with cream cheese! And calabacitas - never heard of this - but they sound like the perfect side! Such a delicious meal!

Grace said...

of all your glorious hatch dishes, the enchiladas have to be my favorite. truly, i'm not sure they can be beaten during those times when i'm craving something soul-soothing and satisfying. just luscious. hooray for hatch chile week!

Anonymous said...

The enchiladas look fabulous! I have not tried Calabacitas before, sounds wonderful!