Friday, June 11, 2010

Never the Same Dish Twice: Caramelized Onion & Poblano Enchiladas

There's just something about a cheese enchilada.

It's not complicated. Or fancy. If you're honest, you'll probably even admit that it's really not even all that interesting.  But, there's something about a deliciously soft tortilla that's filled with cheese and covered in sauce that seems to capture the imagination. 

Of course, if you're like me, you're always trying to play with perfection... tweaking a little bit here, adjusting there. Making things better (hopefully)... or at least different.  Keeping the spirit of the experimentation alive.

This dish has been a perennial favorite in the Burp! kitchen. In fact, the recipe goes way back -- to the beginnings of the blog.

It was one of our very first blog posts -- published toward the end of June in 2007.  At the point it was written, we weren't cognizant that we had an audience.  In fact, we were pretty sure that we didn't. You'll notice there's no pretty photo of our meal. No story about where we got the idea for the recipe. In fact, there's not much of anything interesting about the post at all, except maybe the recipe itself (and that's probably somewhat debatable).

The fact of the matter is, the idea stemmed from a recipe for cheese and caramelized onion enchiladas that we found in Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen.   We loved the concept of using sweet caramelized onions in an enchilada, but I wasn't completely satisfied with the recipe on its own.  So, we started tweaking.

Rather than using pickled jalapeno peppers, I decided to sub in slices of roasted poblano chiles. To add a bit of delightful creaminess, we added a few ounces of cream cheese to the filling. We neglected to use Bishop's sauce.  And suddenly, we had a brand new dish.

Years later, I'd venture a guess that we've made this dish at least 10-15 times. And it's likely to have been different every go-round. We've used various sauces (a mole, a red chile sauce, and a roasted tomatillo sauce). We've substituted roasted red peppers and fresh jalapenos for the poblanos. We've added goat cheese to the mix, rather than cream cheese.  And every time, it's been a completely new kind of fabulous.

But, that's exactly what I love about cooking. And blogging.  It's never the same twice. Ingredients change. Trends come and go. We approach the same dishes with different perspectives. And recipes have this miraculous way of morphing into new experiences right before our very eyes.

Every single time we step into the kitchen, we learn something new. And we find something unexpected.

So, go ahead -- tweak that recipe. See what it becomes for you.
Caramelized Onion & Poblano Enchiladas


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12 comments:

  1. Ooh, I keep meaning to make enchiladas. Your'e right. They are typical but cheese wrapped in tortilla with sauce is just good! Yours look excellent by the way-like the radishes too...

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  2. Oh, yum. And as luck would have it, Jason just returned, less than an hour ago, from a business trip to New Mexico, and he brought home a huge sack of freshly made corn tortillas. I think we need some enchiladas on our menu this week...

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  3. I've actually never made enchiladas which is SO weird because (a) I love them and (b) every time I see interesting fillings for them I bookmark them. So I have a huge list of enchilada recipes. That I've never made. Bad.

    These sound absolutely delish. A seriously good filling idea. I love how our tastes and cooking techniques change over time and with the blog it's so nice to be able to look back and see that!

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  4. Carmelized onions in an enchilada? Brilliant Idea.

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  5. Of the many wonderful things I've eaten at your house - these enchiladas are by far my favorite! I can't even imagine making them better! Oooo and just think how these would be with that Mayan ice cream stuff you made as a desert.... (hint hint)
    ~r

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  6. These enchiladas look so delicious...the caramelized onion puts it over the top!

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  7. Well, looks like I know what we'll be making when our poblanos are ready to harvest.

    By the way, is that the same Jack Bishop from Cook's Illustrated?

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  8. Dan - Yes, same Jack Bishop. He's got a number of vegetarian cookbooks (one Italian, one seasonal, maybe more).

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  9. Those look wonderful. I could definitely go for some of these flavors in an enchilada! Keep the enchilada experiments coming.

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  10. You just described exactly one of the reasons why I love cooking so much! Dishes evolve with us, and change and mature as we do - it's part of the beauty of cooking :) Love the caramelized onions idea! I'll have to do that next time I make enchiladas!

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  11. I love enchiladas. Never tire of them. This recipe looks great and I love the way you added radishes to the top. I need ideas for radishes! Perfect.

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  12. this looks great! the radishes add a nice bit of color, and the carmelized onions are making my tummy growl! it is good to re-post dishes sometimes, especially now that you have a growing readership!

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