About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Machaca Enchiladas

I took all that great shank meat I'd  braised (click here to go to that post) and made machaca beef out of it.  About half of it went into enchiladas and the rest I froze in Qt zipper bags for future use.
I started with about 5 lbs of braised beef shank meat that had been well-cleaned of fat, sinew and bone pieces, and cut it into rough 1/2 - 3/4" chunks and cooked it with some fresh chopped garlic, a couple of chopped onions and a few chopped tomatoes.  When the onions were soft, I added in the retained and de-fatted braising liquid from the shanks (which had set up into a firm jelly in the fridge), covered the pot and cooked it for about an hour until the meat was moist and starting to fall apart, the liquid had reduced a little and the flavors well melded.
While the machaca was cooking I made a quick red chile sauce.  I'd run out of the dry mild red chiles I like to use for this so I sautéed some onions and garlic, covered them with water, added some dry Ancho Chile powder and cooked it all together for about 30 minutes.  I then pureed the sauce in the food processor, put it back on the stove and thickened it slightly with flour.
I also pulled out  3 dozen 6" corn tortillas (we have a great little tortilla shop right in town where I get these), and grated about 2 lbs of the Monterey Jack.
When the machaca was done it was time to assemble the enchiladas.
Traditionally the tortillas would be briefly dipped in very hot fat to soften them and make them easier to roll and better to hold up to the high-moisture filling.  I just didn't feel like I needed all that extra fat today so I spritzed one side of each tortilla with cooking spray and heated them in a dry sauté pan, turning and stacking them as I went until I had them all heated.  I knew they would be a little harder to work with and that some would inevitably break but I was going to pack the enchiladas tightly into a 2" full hotel pan and bake them right away anyway so a few "uglies" weren't going to ruin my day.
Working quickly, right in the lightly greased hotel pan, I took each tortilla in turn, popped a serving spoon full of filling in each one, rolled it up, pushed it to the end of the pan and started the next one.  The tortillas actually behaved themselves quite well overall and 2 rows of 18 enchiladas filled the pan fully.
Next I poured the prepared red chile sauce over the enchiladas and spread it around evenly.  The I toped the whole pan with the Jack cheese, covered the pan with plastic wrap then foil and baked it for about 45 minutes at 325F (convection oven setting).
I pulled off the covers for the last 15 minutes to brown the cheese. 

 After cooling and chilling overnight I packaged the enchiladas into serving-sized portions and froze them for easy meals for the coming (VERY soon!) busy kidding season here at the Ranch.

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