Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lasagna-styled Enchiladas topped with Fire Roasted Corn + Avocado Relish and Chipotle Crema

I find it quite enjoyable to combine cultures in the kitchen, and that's exactly what I've done here. A Mexican staple collaborates harmoniously with Italian culinary style to present a meal featuring some of my favorite flavors in an unconventional, but oh so intriguing manner.

The flavor profile largely favors Southwestern foods, but I wanted to do more to highlight the Italian culture than simply construct an enchilada like a nice big pan of lasagna by using corn tortillas as I would lasagna noodles. To do this I incorporated ricotta cheese, as is typical when making lasagna. The ricotta's presence helps politely remind your taste buds that, although the inspirational Mexican flavors are sitting in the VIP lounge, Italy is still on the guest list and a force to be reckoned with.

Lasagna-styled Enchilada with Punch-drunk Barley
 Lasagna-styled Enchilada topped with Fire Roasted Corn + Avocado Relish and Chipotle Crema

Servings: 6
Total Time: 40 to 50 min.

Some featured ingredients
1.25 lb. ground turkey
1 tbls. olive oil
1 can red enchilada sauce (net wt. 19 oz.)
8 corn tortillas
1 each red, yellow, green peppers, sliced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 lime
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 c. shredded cheddar and jack cheese
Fire Roasted Corn + Avocado Relish (recipe follows)
Chipotle Crema (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg. Turn a burner to medium and begin heating a pan with olive oil. Once heated begin cooking and browning the turkey. Season with salt and pepper to taste, or add fiesta lime seasoning if you have it. Also, pour a little enchilada sauce over the meat during the cooking process so the meat retains some moisture.

2. While the turkey is cooking, lightly coat tortillas with olive oil, salt, pepper and bake. Place tortillas in the oven for about 5 min., or until tortillas begin to crisp and turn golden brown. This will help add a little flavor and texture. You may bake the tortillas while the oven is preheating.

3. Prepare the vegetables by slicing the peppers and chopping the onion.

4. Add some flair to the ricotta cheese by mixing in a few drops of lime juice and zest, cumin and pepper.

5. Once the oven is preheated, turkey browned and tortillas baked it is time to construct the meal.

Pre-bake construction
 6. Coat the 8 x 8 in. pan with cooking spray to ensure nothing sticks (this isn't completely necessary, but something I like to do just in case). Smear a little sauce on the bottom of the pan and layer with 4 tortillas. Use half the ricotta mixture to cover the tortillas. Top with half the turkey. Finish the layer with half the peppers and onions. Pour a little more sauce. Repeat the process to build the second and final layer starting with the last 4 tortillas. After pouring the rest of the sauce over the top of the final layer, cover with cheese.

7. Tent loosely with foil, so the cheese and edges don't burn, before placing in the oven for about 40 min., or until heated through and vegetables are tender.

Baked and ready to eat!
 8. Allow the cheese to brown by removing the foil for the last 5 to 10 min.

9. Let the dish sit for at least 5 min. to facilitate cutting. Portion into 6 servings and top each with Fire Roasted Corn + Avocado Relish and Chipotle Crema.

1. It can be difficult to keep the turkey moist, but you may easily use any meat of your choosing. You could also make it vegetarian by leaving the meat behind and adding a greater variety of vegetables!

2. Crisping the tortillas may be skipped because the tortillas will soften again during the baking process. However, I like to flavor each component of a dish so each layer continues to build flavor, and decided baking the tortillas was a great way to add flavor. Some edges that didn't get covered remain crispy as well, thus adding a pleasant textural contrast.

3. Let the cheese brown to your liking. Personally, I would have let the cheese get a little more brown, but my family and I were pretty hungry, so I got a little impatient and decided it was time to eat!

Fire Roasted Corn + Avocado Relish

Makes: about 2 c.
Time: 5 - 10 min. (depends how fast you can chop!)

A refreshing relish full of bright flavors and tantalizing textural contrasts.
I debated calling this a guacamole, but there are so many great ingredients that the avocado isn't the only star. They all just work very well together to add a variety of flavors and textures without overpowering each other. The corn adds a very nice crisp, charred flavor while maintaining its inherent sweetness. The avocado is soft and creamy, coating every element of the relish. The jalapeno adds a kick. The lime brightens everything with its acidity. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here and tell you to make this and find out for yourself right now!

1 ear of corn, grilled
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 med. tomatillo, chopped
1/4 c. chopped jicama
2 tbls. cilantro, chopped (roughly chopped is fine)
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

1. To grill the corn, heat your grill to medium and remove the corn's husk and silk. Coat the corn lightly with canola oil, salt and pepper. Grill until corn is nicely charred on all sides.

2. Remove the kernels and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix.

3. Allow the relish to cool in the fridge for a bit so the flavors can really come together.

Chipotle Crema

Makes: 6 oz.
Time: < 5 min.

It's kind of like the cherry on top, only it isn't a cherry!
I did it again! I've called upon the good ol' Greek yogurt to healthify my Chipotle "Crema."

6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped

1. Combine both ingredients in a bowl and stir.

All done! Pretty easy, huh?

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