Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Diecisiete de Mayo

At face value, this week's specials may seem more appropriate for the week of Cinco de Mayo, but even though I had the idea for the sauce well before, I couldn't have come to this conclusion without the proper dishes, which I just so happened to need for a private party last Friday.

We do close for private parties from time to time depending on their size, and I have to apologize if you ever stop by and are unable to dine with us during these events. Last Friday's was a pre-Bat Mitzvah celebration, a Jewish daughter's coming of age ceremony, and for the grand finale they wanted banana splits with the works, thus leaving me with a new set of dishes to use as a blank canvas of sorts.

The shallow, oval bowls that we got are actually for baking and broiling, so I thought that I could utilize my ancho chile and hibiscus sauce as the foundation for some unique enchiladas. Another example of how the plate is the inspiration for the food.

The sauce is made by slowly cooking the whites of spring Walla Walla onions (saving the greens for the filling) in oil with garlic, cumin, and ground ancho chiles, or dried poblanos which have a wonderful raisin/dried fruit and a slightly tobacco flavor that aren't very spicy. I added tomato paste and hibiscus syrup and simmered until everything was very soft before I cooled it and blended smooth with fresh oregano and parsley.

For the filling I went with coarsely ground wild boar that must have been lingering on my mind every since I decided over the weekend that I want to cook a whole boar in the ground luau-style in my backyard sometime this summer. I guess I just had it on the brain!

The ground boar cooked in its own juices along with chipotle powder, garlic oil and cumin. Once cooled I mixed in fontina cheese, freshly chopped cilantro and the leftover Walla Walla green onions.

The glory of enchiladas is in the preparation: you dip each corn tortilla in the simmering sauce so that it absorbs all of its goodness, then mound with the filling and roll, placing each in a dish with a little  more sauce. I bake two per order in a hot oven until bubbly before I top them off with more fontina and a pinch of cheddar for color.

Since I only had one chance at offering fava leaves this season (and all of my other ideas fell through...) I used them here, where they offer a unique vegetable pairing to a usually solitary dish and lend to the presentation as well.

I have been steeping tequila with dried black mission figs well before Cinco de Mayo, but since I had other ideas for that week I saved it for the right moment. Once watermelon became available, I knew the best way to use it.

I carefully peeled all of the rind and white pith from the watermelon, leaving only the sweet flesh that I pureed in the blender and strained until it was just the silky juice. I then simply poured it into a pint glass filled with ice, followed by the fig tequila and topped with club soda to brighten it even more and make it dance on the palate!!

With Love,


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