Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Swiss Chard Enchiladas Suizas

Listening: Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs )

If you have Swiss chard in your garden, like our friend the Eminent Botanist, you know it can be continually harvested throughout its growing season. It also has nothing to do with Switzerland. It is probably Sicilian. It was given the Swiss designation to distinguish it from French spinach in old seed catalogs. It is also related to the beet, except we only eat the leaves of the chard plant. Best of all, it is highly nutritious.
Bunches of different colored chard were on sale at the Jus Kiddin Around Farm stall run by Linda and Pete Kloss. They also happen to supply produce to the Curious Goods at the Bake Oven Inn, a restaurant run by my friend Chef Mark Muszynski and his wife, Catherine in Germansville, Pa. 
Seeing the chard meant there was no better time to make these enchiladas filled with Swiss chard and roasted peppers. Enchilladas Suizas (Swiss enchiladas) are the creation of  Sanborn’s in Mexico City. Instead of being sauced with a chile sauce, they are made with a creamy, cheesy sauce based on the French béchamel. (Since it has cheese, it would be based on a Mornay sauce, but I digress). I had written the recipe using poblano peppers, but I found yellow bell peppers at the market and made the substitution.
The filling makes enough for four or five servings, with two enchiladas per serving.  The recipe can be prepared in parts (the filling and the sauce) and kept refrigerated until assembled.

Swiss Chard Enchiladas Suizas
This makes enough filling for 8 to 10  six” enchiladas

The filling:
1 bunch* Swiss chard
3 poblano peppers (or two medium red or yellow bell peppers)
2 cups chopped onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil for cooking

1. Roast the poblanos or bell peppers under a broiler or, if you have a gas stove, they can go right on top of the burner.  Turn the peppers until blackened on all sides. Remove the peppers and place them into a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool.

2. To prepare the chard, strip the leaves from the stems. Set aside the stems. Tear the leaves into smaller pieces and rinse them under cold water. Slice the chard stems crosswise into ½ “ pieces and set aside.  Place a sauté pan with ½ cup lightly salted water over high heat. Cover the pan until the water comes to a boil. Add the chard leaves to the boiling water, cover and cook until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir occasionally as they cook. When the leaves are tender (taste to test), drain them in a colander, refresh under cold water and let stand to cool.

3. Return pan to the stove over medium-high heat. Swirl in 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 4 to 5 minutes; if they brown a little, it’s alright; don’t burn them. Add the chard stems, season with salt and pepper and stir. Cover, reduce heat and cook until stems are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic at the end and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. While the stems are cooking, clean the roasted peppers. Pull the stems out of the peppers and split each one in half lengthwise. Remove all of the seeds. Using the back of a knife, scrape off the charred skins. (Don’t be tempted to clean the peppers under running water. You’re washing away flavor) When the peppers have been cleaned, set aside 1 of the poblano peppers (or 1/3 of the bell peppers) peppers for the sauce. Slice the remaining peppers lengthwise into thin strips and add them to the stem mixture.

5. Squeeze excess water from the chard leaves and chop them. Place the stem mixture into a small bowl. Add the chopped leaves and the sliced roasted peppers and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate. At this point the filling can remain refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.

Suiza Cheese Sauce
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
salt and ground black pepper
6 ounces grated jack or Chihuahua cheese
1 jalapeno pepper (to taste) cut into small dice

Note: The reserved poblano peppers or bell peppers, cut into small dice will be added to the sauce at the end

1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk flour into melted butter to make a roux. Lower the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add milk to the roux and whisk to combine. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, whisking throughout. When the white sauce has thickened, remove pan from heat. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper. Add the grated cheese, stir until melted and set sauce aside. If making the sauce ahead of time, cover the sauce with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly onto the top of the sauce. (The sauce can be transferred to a container and stored in the refrigerator until needed. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the top of the sauce before refrigerating it).

To assemble:
8 to 10   6” flour tortillas

1. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” baking pan.

2. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven; it will make them easier to roll. Lightly cover the bottom of the baking pan with some of the cheese sauce. Spoon about 2/3rds of the sauce into the Swiss chard mixture and stir to combine. Mix the reserved diced roasted peppers into the remaining sauce and set aside.

3. Remove the tortillas from the oven. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees. Divide the chard filling into eight or ten portions.   Place the filling onto bottom third of a tortilla and roll the tortilla closed. Place the enchiladas into the baking pan and repeat until all the enchiladas are made.

3. Spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Place the enchiladas into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, at which point the sauce should be bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve.

*O.K., what do you mean by a “bunch” of Swiss chard? Well, that’s how you find it at the market or  in the store, of course. Does bunch size vary? I would guess that they’re probably consistent. The past two times I made this, the bunch I used weighed almost a pound. If you have it in your garden use a pound of chard leaves.

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