Picadillo Alfredo

Warning! This is an experiment.

The NY Times recently published a recipe by Sam Sifton for Picadillo which he calls the ultimate Cuban comfort food.  Picadillo is a sort of sloppy-Joe kind of stew made from ground meat (picadillo means mince), tomatoes, raisins, olives and liberally seasoned with cinnamon, cumin and other warm spices.  To my taste, it sounds like a Persian inflected dish (who often combine meat, fruit and spices) via Spain (remember, that Arabs held sway in the Iberian peninsula for nearly 700 years).  Mr. Sifton suggests serving it with rice.  OK, but I couldn’t quite get my head around picadillo as a stew.

Recently Jeanne made spinach enchiladas which were quite tasty.  Her enchiladas prompted me to think of picadillo as a stand in for the filling of an enchilada-like presentation.  Of course, I couldn’t follow the typical enchilada routine by covering the filled tortillas with a tomato and chili sauce as the picadillo has plenty of tomatoes in it already.  So, why not invert the order of things?  Enchiladas often have cheese in the filling so why not put the cheese on the outside.  But I didn’t want to just bury the tortillas in shredded cheese.  How about something creamier?  I’ve got it – Alfredo sauce!  I know, it’s not Cuban.  It’s not even Latino.  But it creamy cheesy good.  And you can buy it in a jar, ready to go.

For the picadillo I followed the NY Times recipe to a “T”, just cutting it in half to accommodate our more limited table (and so as to not have too much left over in case my experiment was a bust).

Ingredients.1

Ingredients (see NY Times recipe for complete list)

Minced garlic, diced Chorizo and chopped onion

Minced garlic, diced chorizo and chopped onion

Beef, tomatoes, onions, chorizo, garlic and seasonings saute away

Beef, tomatoes, onions, chorizo, garlic, raisins, olives and seasonings saute away

Fill tortillas with a geneous 1/4 cup of picadillo mixture

Fill tortillas with a geneous 1/4 cup of picadillo mixture

Put rolled, filled tortillas in a baking dish with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce underneath and a generous layer over the top

Put rolled, filled tortillas in a baking dish with a thin layer of Alfredo sauce underneath and a generous layer over the top

Sprinkle a light layer of grated cheese (I used a Mexican blend but cheddar would be fine).  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350˚ F. for about 30 minutes or untll the Alfredo sauce is bubbly and lightly browned.

Not pretty but pretty tasty. A little garnish would have been in order but I forgot to take this picture until I was on my second Picadillo Alfredo.

Not pretty but pretty tasty. A little garnish would have been in order but I forgot to take this picture until I was on my second Picadillo Alfredo.

Not much to look at but pretty yummy.  I think the picadillo mixture could serve other purposes – maybe an Cuban sloppy-joe?

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Peckish from Puzzling?

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While you are puzzling over your solutions to our rebus challenge (remember, the deadline is Sunday … let’s say around 5:00 pm) you might get a bit peckish.  Or, if you think you’ve nailed the solutions to the rebi (plural of rebus?), you might want to whip up a quick celebratory dinner in anticipation of your victory.

A quick dinner in our house often means enchiladas.  They’re easy, tasty and a great way to use leftovers or small amounts of meat in an interesting way.  You can use almost any cooked meat and vegetable combination for the filling so long as the vegetable isn’t watery – tomatoes wouldn’t work very well but mushrooms, squash or corn are excellent.  Tonight, chorizo, Swiss chard and potato.

Chorizo, Chard and Potato Enchiladas

1/2# Mexican Chorizo, crumbled
1 lg. or 2 med. potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 lg. hand full of Swiss Chard or other sturdy green
1 Poblano chili, roasted until blacked, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 C. nacho cheese sauce, I used Tostito’s Monterey Jack Queso (medium)
1/2 Tbs. oregano (use Mexican if you can get it)
1 C. jarred enchilada sauce (or 1 C. mild tomato-based salsa, pureed in a blender)
1/2 C. Cheddar cheese, grated (or substitute mild Mexican style melting cheese)
2 Tbs. Cotija cheese or other aged hard cheese like Parmesan
Flour tortillas
Cooking oil

Makes 5 or 6 enchiladas.

chili.1

Poblano chili, roasting over kitchen burner

Roast the poblano pepper over direct flame until well charred – it should look black, black, black, all over.  Remove from the burner and put into a clean paper bag and set aside to steam for 10 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, crape off the charred skin, remove seeds and core, and finely chop the flesh.  Set aside.

Chorizo browning

Saute the chorizo in 1 Tbs. oil until lightly browned.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  In the same pan saute the chard in whatever oil remains in the pan until it is wilted.

chard.1

Wilting the chard

Mix chorizo, chard, cubed potatoes, poblano, oregano,  cheese sauce and raw onion.

Place 2 – 3 Tbs. of the meat mixture in the center of a tortilla and roll the tortilla to make the enchiladas.  Spread a thin layer of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.  Place the rolled enchiladas in the baking dish, seam side down, fitting them in snugly.  Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce.  Scatter the cheddar over the sauce.

Filling the tortilla

Filling the tortilla

Rolled enchiladas placed in the pan on a thin layer of sauce

Rolled enchiladas, in the pan on a thin layer of sauce

Enchiladas sauced and ready to go into the oven

Enchiladas, sauced and ready to go into the oven

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Baked enchiladas with cotija topping

Baked enchiladas with cotija topping

Bake 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbly.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the Cotija cheese over the enchiladas and serve.

Chorizo Enchilada with Chard and Potato

Chorizo, Chard and Potato Enchiladas