Sunday, November 21, 2010

Braised Beef Blade Mini-Enchiladas (Enchiladitas)

I was craving some homemade brisket enchiladas for the past several days so I had to make them this weekend.  But, I found these very small corn tortillas I thought I would downsize and make a pan of mini-enchiladas...or would that be enchiladitas?  Has anyone coined that term yet? 

We made the trip over to the best meat counter in the area, La Azteca in Denton.  It smells like Mexico in there and you can find pretty much anything you need for Tex-Mex feast.  I was looking for a trimmed brisket flat to braise and I saw what I thought was brisket but the little senor behind the counter said it was "blade meat".  I had never cooked that cut  but it looked like a cross between trimmed up brisket and a thick skirt steak.  So I bought it.  The plan was to braise it for a couple of hours to soften it up. What I did was season it heavily with olive oil, coarse ground black pepper, paprika, salt & cumin then pop it into my oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes to get some color on the meat and get the seasonings set.  Then I pulled it, flipped the meat, added some beef broth and topped it with a can of El Pato Salsa de Tomate con Jalapeno. I then covered it in foil, lowered the temp to 325 and braised it for 2.5 hours.  Once the meat was tender and pulled apart easily I broke it up in to smaller pieces and tossed it around in the braising liquid so that it was all well coated.  Back on with the foil and back into the oven for 30 more minutes. The meat was super tender and very moist.  I transferred the meat to a bowl, leaving the liquid behind.  With a fork and pair of tongs I shredded the meat, sampling as I went.  All of the fat was completely rendered out.  Needless to say I was very happy with the results.  I think the blade but has a little more flavor than the brisket but it is a slight bit tougher and needs to cook a little longer.

I made the chile paste the day before.  I had 8 or 9 ancho chiles that I had bought the week before for just this purpose. I scanned the recipes I had from Robb Walsh & Rick Bayless.  I checked a few online and took what sounded good from all of them to come up with something that would be my own.  The first thing was to prep the chiles.  I removed the stems and any seeds that would come out easily. Then I dry roasted them in an iron skillet for a minute on each side, until the color started changing and they became very fragrant.  Then I soaked them in hot water for 30 minutes to soften them up. 

While the chiles were soaking I decided that i wanted to do something different with the garlic so I pan roasted it.  I took the same iron skillet that I used for the chiles and dry roasted several cloves until they were spotted brown all over. The aroma was amazing.  Tossed those into the food processor.  Then seeded the chiles and added those to the food processor along with 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, black pepper, a pinch of kosher salt, a splash of olive oil and about 1/4 to 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  This was all blended until for about a minute to make a nice paste. I then pressed it through a metal strainer to remove any left over seeds, skins or other particles that would not break down.  Wrapped it up and into the fridge to sit over night.

The sauce was pretty simple and straight forward. I made a roux from 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of oil, cooked/whisked it until it started to brown then added 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper and a small pinch of sugar.  Whisked that all in then added 2 tablespoons of the chile paste.  Whisked that in, cooked it for a minute or so then added 2 cups of water, whisking the entire time.  Added the rest of the chile paste (about 1/2 a cup I would guess), whisking, making sure it dissolves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  The sauce should thicken up nicely but not get too stiff.  As it sits and cools you'll get a film on top. I just scraped it off with a spoon but you can just stir it and blend it back in.  Set the sauce aside and let it cool just a bit.

The enchilada assembly was my typical method. I used the microwave (don't knock it!) to steam my mini-tortillas. I just put a handful of them into a seal able plastic bag and nuke them for 30-45 seconds until they soften up enough to roll.  Then I spoon some sauce into the bottom of whatever pan I am using, lay a tortilla in the pan to get sauce on the bottom side, flip it, fill it with meat and a touch of cheese, roll it up and gently push it to the end of the pan.  Repeat until you fill the pan.  Then I spoon the sauce over the rolled enchiladas. I don't drown mine in sauce.  Just enough to coat the center of them while leaving the edges exposed so they get slightly charred.  I topped these with grated Asadero cheese which is between a Jack and a Mozzarella. It's a really good cheese for enchiladas, tacos & quesadillas.  To top these off I sauteed some white onion and chopped jalapeno until they just started to soften up.  Finally, I put these in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese was bubbling. 

I really liked the final results.  The mini-enchiladas were just the right size. Had they been full sized I don't think you could have cut the meat with a fork.  Blade meat, like brisket, is a little stringy and the more you put in there the harder it is to cut through it, no matter how long you cook it.  If I was making full size enchiladas I would have opted to chop the meat before I filled them.   

All the secrets to these are here.  Its a long process but worth it in the end.  You have enough to make probably 30 or 40 minis or maybe a couple dozen full size enchiladas.  I would suggest making tacos with any left over meat but I am thinking it would be great with eggs also.  I hope someone else enjoys these as much as I did.

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