by Malia Kirby L.Ac.
I have a love-hate relationship with enchiladas. I love eating them. The problem lies with one specific ingredient in the enchiladas, and that’s the corn tortilla. I absolutely, positively, 100% hate working with corn tortillas with the fire of one thousand suns. It is intensely frustrating for me to figure out just the perfect ratio of oil to tortilla to heat level to heating time. If I make sure to thoroughly oil the surface area of the tortillas, slap them on a metal cooling rack placed inside a baking sheet and bake them at 275°F, they’ll roll like Tupac, but all I can taste is the flavor of the oil. If I reduce the amount of oil, there’s a nice roasty corn flavor, but they get a little dried out and tear—usually right down the center where the filling is. Cast-iron on the stovetop works well as a stable heating agent, but I’d really rather have all of my tortillas warm and ready to roll in one fell swoop, not to mention that I’m prone to smacking a wrist and burning the crap out of myself.
So, what’s my solution? Instead of allowing myself to become Ahab with corn tortillas standing in as my white whale, I’ve decided to stop trying to fight it all and go with a chilaquiles presentation. I figure I’m still getting the same flavors without needing to take a harmonizing formula, and I’m ok with that, at least until I find the motivation to start making my own from scratch. I still get the Southwestern flavors I crave without the fuss, and if that weren’t enough, if you open up your tortillas and discover that someone in your family didn’t close the bag and they’ve dried out, it’s not just ok, you’ve saved yourself a step. It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.
Shrimp and Black Bean Chilaquiles
Makes 1 9x13” pan
10 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, & torn into pieces
15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes, divided, drained, and juice reserved
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 c vegetable stock
1 package corn tortillas
1 c corn kernels
1 T olive oil
1 t Mexican oregano
1 ½ t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 lb small to medium-sized (41-60 per lb) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 c cooked black beans
Chihuahua, quesadilla, or asadero cheese, shredded (optional)
1 c sour cream
1 T fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1-2 avocadoes, sliced
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place the dried chile pieces in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak for 30 minutes or until soft. Drain the chile pieces, reserving 1 c of the soaking water, transferring both the chiles and the reserved water to a large saucepan. Add half of the tomatoes, all of the reserved juice, minced garlic, and vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.
While the chiles are soaking, tear or cut the tortillas into quarters and place on a baking sheet (you may need to use more than one baking sheet or do this step in batches. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until the tortilla pieces have become crispy and chip-like. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
While the tortilla pieces are crisping, heat a large skillet over medium heat and pan-roast the corn kernels until lightly browned. Transfer the corn to a bowl and clean the skillet.
Return the skillet to the heat source. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering, but not yet smoking. Toss the shrimp with the oregano and the ground cumin, then add to the heated oil and sear on both sides, approximately 30-45 seconds per side. Remove the skillet from heat.
Add the shrimp to the pan-roasted corn kernels, adding the cooked black beans and remaining fire-roasted tomatoes, and toss until combined.
Place a layer of the crisped tortillas in the bottom of a 9x13” pan, following with a layer of the shrimp mixture, and a layer of cheese (if using). Repeat this process until all of the shrimp mixture has been used, ending with a final layer of tortillas. Pour the guajillo chile sauce over the chilaquiles and top with a final layer of cheese, if using. (If you really feel like gilding the lily, crack 4 raw eggs over the top of the cheese before baking)
Place the chilaquiles in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted, if using.
While the chilaquiles are baking, whisk the sour cream until smooth, then add the minced cilantro and lime zest. (If a stronger lime flavor is desired, feel free to add in juice from the fruit ½ t at a time.)
Toss the diced tomatoes with the shallot pieces. Combine the balsamic vinegar with the remaining lime juice in a small bowl, then pour over the tomatoes and shallot and toss to combine.
Divide the chilaquiles into servings, then drizzle the cilantro-lime sour cream over each portion. Serve warm with the tomato-shallot mixture and sliced avocados on the side with additional fresh cilantro, if desired.
Click here to download a pdf copy