I find buying things just for the sake of a holiday to be silly, I don’t do it. I’d rather give something to someone I love because it reminds me of them, no matter what the day. Being that today was Mother’s Day, I decided that my gift to my mom would be to cook for her. We all get together at my parent’s house every Sunday and have a delicious dinner together, so I offered early in the week to be the one to do the cooking this week.
We were very lucky growing up, my parents always had a home cooked meal prepared for us for dinner every night, we would all sit down at the end of the day and have dinner together. Whether it was my mom cooking something in the crock pot or my dad concocting some random recipe, it was always there, it was always homemade and it always made with love. I am realizing now as an adult what an amazing gift that was, and just how lucky we were. I know this is where my love to cook comes from and why I love that feeling you get when you are able to share something you’ve made from scratch with the people you love the most. This meal was even better than me just cooking it alone for everyone, because we made it together and hung out all afternoon in the kitchen. My dad helped grill the veggies, made his famous Spanish rice and some delicious margaritas to go with the meal. My mom cooked the corn tortillas as I was pressing them and she helped assemble the enchiladas. My sister, Dana, hung out and kept us all company (I swear I will get you cooking Dana). My husband, Mark, and my nephew, Noah, watched movies, rough housed and played cars in the living room. A fun family day. Though we missed my sister, Vicky, her boyfriend, Nick, and my lovely niece, Teagan.
There are a few different elements to this recipe and they will all be in this post. I will post a separate entry for my guacamole, which we enjoyed as a side.
I started preparing the meal the day prior by soaking the beans for the slow cooked black beans, which I wanted to have a ton of flavor since they would be the main element of the enchiladas. I also grabbed a plain rotisserie chicken at the grocery store this morning since I knew my dad wouldn’t go for an entirely vegetarian meal, being the typical “meat and potatoes” guy and my older sister, Dana, doesn’t like beans. There really are so many ways you can make these enchiladas, adding different vegetables like zucchini, spinach or mushrooms, and different proteins like tofu or various meats, you can even go just cheese. The sky is the limit. This was what I thought sounded the best, so this is what I went with. They really turned out great. The enchilada sauce had so much flavor, I can’t believe I ever bought canned enchilada sauce in the past, this was so easy. The beans had a delicious smokey, slow cooked flavor that you won’t find in any can of black beans on the shelf at the grocery store. Definitely worth the extra time.
Slow cooked black beans
Adapted from Recipes for Health, New York Times, March 2009
1 pound dry organic black beans, washed and picked over
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 whole chipotles, dried
Soak the beans in the water for at least six hours. Keep them in the refrigerator if you are soaking for a long time in hot weather.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add the onion, stirring until it begins to soften. Add two cloves of the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the beans and soaking water. Be sure the beans are covered by at least 1 inch of water, add more if necessary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and skim off any foam that rises. Cover and simmer one hour.
Add the salt, remaining two cloves of minced garlic, cilantro and the whole chipotles. Continue to simmer another hour until the beans are soft and the broth is thick and fragrant. Taste. Add more salt to taste, add more garlic if it needs it. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor. Heat back up over medium heat before making the enchiladas.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 small jalapeno peppers, chopped
6 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 dried chipotles, whole
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, add onion, garlic and jalapeno. Sauté, stirring until the vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, chipotles, roasted red peppers and salt, simmer on a low heat for at least 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes are very soft. Turn the heat off, remove the whole chipotles and add the sauce to a food processor, blend until smooth. Set aside.
Black Bean Enchiladas
20 fresh homemade corn tortillas, prepared, cooked and ready to be eaten
(if you used store-bought corn tortillas, you will need to heat these up to make them less breakable)
slow cooked black beans, see recipe above (or if you must, canned black beans)
enchilada sauce, see recipe above
3 ears sweet corn, cooked thoroughly on the grill
2 bell peppers, roasted on the grill (red, orange, yellow or green), cut into strips
1 cup shredded queso blanco
1 cup shredded jack cheese
Preheat your oven to 350° F
Prepare your corn tortillas, black beans and enchilada sauce ahead of time. Lightly coat the bottom of two 9″ x 13″ glass pans with the enchilada sauce, probably about 1/2 cup in each. Place a corn tortilla, flat in the palm of your hand (or on a flat surface) and put a spoonful of corn, black beans, a couple of peppers, and a sprinkling of each cheese in the tortilla, careful to not overfill it and to leave enough ingredients for the rest of the tortillas. Be sure to leave enough cheese to top the enchiladas as well. Carefully roll the tortilla up and place it with the open side down in the sauce lined pan. Repeat this with the rest. Because we made some with chicken and beans, some with just beans and some with just chicken, we marked them accordingly with toothpicks. You really can add anything to the filling of these, be creative. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining shredded queso blanco and jack cheese and chopped green onions and cilantro. Bake 25 – 30 minutes until the cheese is melted, browning and bubbling. Top with (or serve on the side) sour cream, lettuce, and/or guacamole or any other favorite garnishes.