Sometimes I’m lucky and when I decide to cook up a storm, I get a little help from my friends.  The extra pair of hands that my friend Marcel provided went a long way to taking this dish from being something that took a couple hours to make into something that took an hour to make.  Doing it all myself and entertaining people in “the old style” is nice but teamwork is also really nice too.

I’m still getting tons and tons of greens in my CSA haul each week so I made this tamale pie vegetarian and loaded it up with greens.

If you’re wondering what I mean by “the old style” it’s really an old inside joke between some friends of mine.  It was first said by a friend’s landlord who invited her down to visit him in the mansion he was renovating in New Orleans.  He told her that once the renovations were completed she could come down for a week and that she would have her own room and he would entertain her in “the old style”.  However, she didn’t get clarification from him as to what that exactly meant.  Instead we chose to speculate what he might have meant based on what we knew about him.  We decided it meant to have your host casually and effortlessly lavish you, the guest, with an endless supply of sumptuous food, booze and entertainment options all while enjoying the comforts of their fabulous home (only fabulous people entertain in the old style… obvi).  Sounds really nice right?!?!?  That’s not what happened here.

Greens all by themselves would be kinda boring so I decided to make a bechamel to bind them up and make this dish a little more rich.

I’ve noticed that it makes some people uncomfortable to have this kind of attention lavished upon them so they have a hard time relaxing while I’m cooking.  Marcel is one of those people.  Every time he comes over he wants to help.  I appreciate the gesture and I know he means it so I usually take him up on it.  Also, I got a late start to dinner so if we were going to eat before 11pm I was going to need those extra pair of hands.

This is more decadent that some plain ole sauteed greens am I right?

I put Marcel on masa duty. He was in charge of pressing out the masa into tortillas for the dish.

There was a bit of a learning curve but after a few throwaways he became an expert and the tortillas were ready for the griddle.

Here’s Marcel filling the tortilla with the creamy veggie filling. I would have been at this all night without the extra hands. For reals.

The other challenge with this particular dish is that it was an experiment.  When I’m totally winging it, I’m not sure what to tell people to do to help because I am not sure what I’m doing!   The goal was to make enchiladas from scratch.  How hard could enchiladas from scratch be, right?!?!  I was making up the recipe as I went along and luckily Marcel was patient with my somewhat disorganized instructions.

Originally this was going to be an enchilada recipe but it didn’t come out like enchiladas so I changed the name. To be honest this isn’t the best recipe ever but it did taste really really good so I’m posting it anyhow.

I made a pretty simple green chile sauce with just some onions and the chiles cooked with some oil and garlic.

I pureed the chile mixture and poured it over the stuffed tortillas. I made way too much sauce and I was lazy so I just poured the whole thing over.

You can never have too much cheese.

Crusty gooey cheesy goodness!!! Topped with some freshly chopped cilantro and green onions… this was super tasty

It didn’t come out exactly how I wanted so I changed the name to “Tamale Pie” because that’s what it more closely resembled.  It did taste great and we both had more than one helping, which puts it in the “success” column as far as I’m concerned.  There were even some leftovers that made a couple yummy lunches over the course of the week.  I highly recommend trying some version of this for a party, potluck or to freeze in portions for your future self to enjoy.  And if you have a good enchilada from scratch recipe… I’m all ears!!

Delightful Recipe

Serves 6 hungry people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of masa harina (I used Maseca brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of hot water or veggie broth
  • 1 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon of veggie or grape seed oil
  • 4 bunches of greens, washed and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cream cheese (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons veggie or grape seed oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 hatch chiles, seeded, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups of veggie broth
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cups of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of chopped green onions
  • In a large mixing bowl add the Maseca masa harina, salt and hot water or broth.  Mix with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together into a ball.  Knead the dough for a couple minutes in the bowl until it forms a very smooth round ball.  It should be the texture of Play-Doh.  Add more water by the tablespoon if the dough is crumbly or dry.  Set the dough aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a small sauce pan add the milk, onion, bay leaf and cloves.  Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat and let the onion, bay leaf and cloves steep in the milk for at least 20 minutes.  Strain the onion, bay leaf and cloves out of the milk and keep the milk warm.  You may have to reheat it.  A little trick to make this easier is to skewer the bay leaf onto the side of the onion with the cloves.  The cloves act like little push pins to hold the bay leaf onto the side of the onion.  This makes it easier to remove.  Make sure the bay leaf and clove side of the onion are submerged in the milk.  This adds a ton of flavor.
  • In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the greens and a pinch of salt.  Cook until the greens are wilted and cooked through.
  • In another large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and then whisk in the flour.  Cook the flour and butter until it turns a golden color whisking often so it doesn’t burn.  It should also smell really good.
  • Then slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps.  After all the milk is incorporated, continue to whisk.  The mixture will continue thicken as it cooks.  When it gets to the texture of a thick cream, add in the greens and mix well.  Add the cream cheese and stir until it’s melted into the sauce.  Set filling aside.
  • In a large pot or dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons of veggie oil over medium high heat.  Add red onion and minced garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.  Then add the chiles and veggie broth and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 20 minutes and then puree with an immersion blender or blend in a blender in batches until you have a smooth, green chile sauce.  Add salt to taste.
  • Separate the rested masa into 8 to 10 equal round balls.  On a smooth surface lay out a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper that is about 12 inches by 12 inches.  Lay the ball of masa in the middle and then lay another piece of parchment or plastic wrap over top.  Press the masa out into a flat round tortilla with a rolling pin or the bottom of a plate.
  • Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium high heat.  Place the tortillas on the hot pan for a few minutes on each side until brown spots form and the tortilla is cooked through.
  • Take each tortilla and fill it with the creamy veggie filling.  Fold the tortilla around the filling and then lay in a casserole dish with the seam side down.
  • After you have cooked and filled all the tortillas and put them in the casserole dish, pour the green chile sauce over top.  You don’t have to use all of the chile sauce.  Feel free to save some for something else.  Or go ahead and pour it all on there.  It does taste good.
  • Then top the chile sauce with shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown at the edges.
  • Let cool for a couple minutes before serving.  Garnish the top with chopped cilantro and green onion.
  • Enjoy!

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