Zach on Cooking: Tex Mex Meets Atlanta

In the early days of my relationship with my wife, I would come over to her condo and she would cook for me. After a few such meals, she made it clear that this would not be a permanent feature of our relationship. I had to fundamentally change my views on domesticity now that I had an actual audience for my food preparation.

I didn’t learn to cook until I was out of college. A turning point was that the condo community where we lived had a gas grill, although said grill seemed to run out of gas at the most inopportune times. It wasn’t until we moved into our house and a grill was part of that purchase that I started becoming more serious about culinary pursuits.

The first grill succumbed to the Georgia humidity and rusted out so I had to trade up to the Big Green Egg. You’d think this would peg me as the typical Neanderthal male who cooked outside while leaving the inside to the wifey. That never was the case. I’d usually have something going on inside as well on the grill.

I had various cookbooks and the nearly endless options that the Internet provides but I never learned technique. The first time I took a cooking class, it was a pizza-making class. I learned how to make dough and various sauces and now we barely ever go out for it.

In the past month I’ve hit the Mediterranean side of cooking quite a bit. I found one beef skewers recipe and stuck with it for a month, trying it with beef, ground turkey, chicken and pork (even shrimp as Alison digs swimmy stuff while I eschew it all) and making the garlic yogurt dip called tzatziki and of course one must make flat bread called Naan to go with it all.

One of Alison’s new hobbies that she hopes becomes something more is podcasting. She interviews Atlanta authors. Recently she spread out and talked with a restaurateur and writer who worked together to create the new cookbook Turnip Greens and Tortillas. The recipes are for Tex-Mex food with a Southern twist. You can get most of the items in this cookbook at a local restaurant called Taqeria Del Sol.

We’ve been there a few times and there’s always a long line for entry. You order your food, hope to find a seat and wait. You get to wait with a beer or a margarita so that’s good. The one item that stood out was enchiladas with a lemon cream sauce. I was hooked.

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Now I get to make the enchiladas at home. The grill was not involved so sorry Eggheads. I did pass on the corn tortilla recipe and used store-bought flour ones. Everything else in the recipe is from scratch. I got a whole chicken from the DeKalb Farmer’s Market and boiled it, cut into quarters, with some water, carrots and celery. One of the key parts of the cream sauce is chicken stock and what’s better than making it? I always assumed that this would be complicated but it’s pretty easy. You boil until the chicken is done, take it out to cool, remove the meat and put the bones/skin back in with the water/carrots/celery. After 20 minutes you strain and what’s left is your stock.

Next item to make is a blonde roux. This is quite simple, butter and flour that comes together into a beige paste. This will thicken the sauce. The sauce comes together with sour cream, lemon juice, the stock, a little salt and the roux added in a little at a time.

You cook some onions (I put cooked onion/garlic in so much of my cooking), tomatoes and finally the chicken together and that’s the filling for the enchiladas. Stuff as many you can on a greased pan and cover the whole thing with the cream sauce and a bag of Monterrey Jack cheese. Cook for 30 minutes and don’t worry about the letting it cool nonsense. This meal’s meant to have immediately out of the oven. I had an appropriate local beer, Second Self’s MiG (Margarita in Gose) to accompany.

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If you don’t know, gose is an old German style of beer that usually includes salt and is usually tart. So this is perfect style to make a Margarita-inspired beer. It’s orange peels, lime juice, and salt. Ok, there’s no tequila but that means you can have more than one.

Now I have about 30 more recipes to try. Ready to make a reservation?

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