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Dia de los Muertos

Chicken Enchiladas

I didn’t know anything about Dia de los Muertos growing up. November 1st was All Saint’s Day – a holy day of obligation. November 2nd was/is All Souls Day. Not surprisingly, Christian and non-Christian holidays all seem to coincide with one another.

Then, again, I don’t think I knew much about any ethnic holidays growing up – other that St Patrick’s Day – and that was corned beef and cabbage and The Clancy Brothers. In grammar school I was part of a quartet that serenaded shoppers at Fairlane Market on two St Paddy’s Days and I was in at least one parade. I don’t even remember Cinco de Mayo being much of anything. Of course, that was before I was thrown out of Tijuana at the tender age of 16 or so. Long story…

There was Chinese New Year, of course, growing up in San Francisco, but I have to admit I was in the Navy and in Hong Kong before ever knowing what Gung Hay Fat Choy was. And there was also Columbus Day – an Italian holiday – but it wasn’t Italian like Italy Italian, just like St Patrick’s Day wasn’t Ireland Irish.

I think it’s great that kids, today, have so much more opportunity to learn about other cultures and different customs, traditions – and foods. If we’re ever going to change minds about different races and cultures, we need to teach our kids to embrace the differences – not fear them.

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Well… this isn’t exactly where I was headed when I started this little missive – it’s amazing how things can take on a life of their own, sometimes!

My plan for dinner tonight was to make something vaguely Mexican in honor of the day – and even make my own corn tortillas. I’ve never been really good at making corn tortillas – the flour ones come out pretty good – but corn always eludes me a bit. I have seen Mexican women make them by hand – merely patting the dough back and forth in their hands. It’s an art – and I am not an artist. I don’t have a tortilla press, but little things like that never seem to stop me.

Agin, my tortillas didn’t come out as I wanted, so I decided to make an enchilada casserole instead of enchiladas.

Chicken Enchiladas

The tortilla recipe is pretty basic:

Corn Tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Add 2 cups masa harina and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the warm water and stir until the water is absorbed.

Slowly add the rest of the water to finish the dough.

Form into balls and press in a tortilla press or smash with a flat-bottomed pan or bowl.

Fry in a hot dry skillet for about 2 minutes per side.

Mine didn’t quite come out like the hand made ones those lovely ladies made, but they tasted pretty good. I broke them up and layered cooked chicken, cooked Mexican Chorizo, green chiles, and cheese – along with chipotle powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, ancho chile powder, and a pinch of salt. I used a jar of Salsa Verde for my sauce.

375°F oven for 45 minutes.

It wasn’t exactly traditional, but it was a nod to all of my friends south of the border.

Compartir la comida en la amistad – Share food in Friendship.

 

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