Monday, November 07, 2005

Deconstruction: It's not just for Derrida

The late philosopher Jacques Derrida once said, "Let little but extremity in its ugliest form separate me from a mighty fine casserole. For it is casserole, signified by its savory amalgam of pieces textures that allows one a measure of clear humility in a haute cuisine world, which is itself signified by artistic plate creations that disappear with one swift lift of tiny pitchforks of culinary death."

Ok, so he didn't say that, but it would have been very funny. Or, at least a little weird.

T and I have been working on variations of the stacked Mexican (Tex-Mex) casserole, or deconstructed enchiladas, and have a couple of good ones under our belts (or, um, over).

Tonight, I needed a special potluck recipe for the return of our friend AC who left DC for the OC (or nearby). I know she likes a little spice so I put together the latest version of these layered Mexi-favorites.

Stacked Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

The "Meat" Section

4 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 small onions, diced within an inch of their lives
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 box Smart Ground Original
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 dashed black pepper
4 Tbsp salsa
1 shot Tabasco/Arizona Gunslinger/Crystal or other hot sauce
1 pinch salt

The Moisture and the Veggies

1 can diced tomatoes
Small jar of salsa or equivalent of homemade
4 oz. frozen corn
1 small can of green chilis

Holdin' it Together and Make it Corny

5-6 corn tortillas
1 - 1.5 cups grated cheese
1 cornbread mix

The Steps

I am a firm believer that spicing at various and appropriate times throughout the cooking process yields the best flavors for most multi-part dishes. For this recipe, make the meat first.


Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot 4 tbsp canola or vegetable oil and saute the onions and garlic until they give off an enticing aroma and the onions are almost translucent. Crumble the box of Smart Ground Original into the pot and stir thoroughly.

Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and pepper. Stir thoroughly.
Add salsa, hot sauce and salt. Stir some more.

Keep the meat heating on low.

Moisture and Veggies:

Mix the diced tomatoes and salsa in a bowl. You'll be using this for the layering. Open the green chilis but do not mix in.

Holdin' it Together:

Soak 5-6 tortillas in the salsa/tomato mixture. Its great to get them nice and wet. If your tortillas are particularly tough, be sure to allow some extra time for soaking!

Get that cheese grated! For best results, use a mix of cheddars or some cheddar and some jalapeno monterey jack.

Construction of the Layers:

1. Ladle the salsa mixture in a thin coating on the bottom of a casserole dish to cover.

2. Cover that with a layer of the taco "meat."

3. Sprinkle some cheese to lightly cover or to really cheese it up.

4. Toss some of green chilis and some corn on top.

5. Put a little more of the salsa mixture.

6. Cover with a sloppy wet tortilla.

Repeat steps 2-6, till satisfied, then,

Repeat Steps 2-5.

At this point, you can pop some foil on and put it in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or you can get corny by placing dollops of cornbread mixture on top. If you cover it with the cornbread mixture, do NOT put the foil on or it will take forever to cook.

Once you take it out of the oven, let it sit for a little bit so the flavors relax into each other. Grab a fat spoon and enjoy!

Variations we have enjoyed:

Use jalapeno corn bread instead of regular
Use sauteed and spiced shrimp instead of the meat
Use some spicy cooked veggies instead of the salsa (squash, zucchini and carrots work great)
Use Fritos instead of the tortillas
Serve with sour cream and freshly cut chives
Make up your own! -J

1 comment:

ScottE. said...

I swore I commented here. Maybe I had one glass of wine too many?

This looks good. I have something similiar and will have to compare notes. Mmmm.