Divide and Conquer, part 1

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The problem with leftovers in The Littlest Kitchen is that I get bored with them. I cannot eat chili and rice five days a week, twice a day, which is about how much is left. I have to make them into something else.

I could have gone simple with sloppy joes and chili omelets, but I need more of a challenge – enchiladas. Adapting some of Cook’s Illustrated’s techniques for chicken enchiladas, I should be able to separate the meat from the sauce, soften the tortillas in the oven, fill the tortillas, cover with sauce and cheese, and be done with it. I could use up the blue corn tortillas, pickled jalapenos, and some stinky cheese.

In beefing up the chili, I added raisins (because I like fruit and meat together), and chopped pickled jalapenos (which also had pickled carrots), chili powder and cumin. A tasty boost, but the meat was fully integrated with the sauce and would not separate. Plan B – tortilla pie. Kinda of like a vertical stack of enchiladas, I merely alternated layers of chili and softened tortilla, finishing with with a protective layer of chili. The cheese was a no go, wrong for its grassy, goat-y taste. I baked it for 20 minutes to let the tortillas meld witht he chili. When it was done, it looked like a homely meat cake. To make myself feel better about this possible disaster, I made a face from the pickled carrots and jalapenos. Sure was ugly, but sure did taste good. The tortillas absorbed some of the spicy chili, while imparting its own earthy corn flavor. It also had structure and distinction. The raisins added little explosions of sweetness. I might be able to eat the whole thing on my own.

Tortilla Pie – serves six

-preheat oven 300 degrees
-reheat 1 quart chili over medium high heat
-add 1/3 cup raisins, 1/3 cup pickled jalapeno, 1T chili powder, 1t cumin, heat through about 5 minutes
-in the meantime, to soften tortillas, lightly brush 6 tortillas with vegetable oil. Bake until soft, about 4 minutes
-spread a thin layer of chili in a pie or cake pan, alternating layers of tortilla and chili, and ending with chili on top
-cover with foil, bake for 20 minutes
-serve with a drizzle of yogurt

Shredded cheese can be added for more gooey-ness, and would make the top more attractive. The chili/meat filling adheres to no hard rules, I happen to like a little more spice and a little more sweet. But softening the tortillas is paramount, otherwise it’ll verge on cardboard.

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