Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inventing Hogmanay Traditions

I've been reading up on Hogmanay. It's about time, given that I'm mainly Scottish and Hogmanay is a uniquely Scottish celebration. Hogmanay is, is fact, the Scots word designating the last day of the year and the celebration extends into Ne'erday, a contraction for New Year Day. In other words, the Scots have their own take on doing the turn of the year celebrations, involving fireworks and music and lots of adult beverages and food and merriment. There is "first-footing" and gift giving and swinging fire balls and all kinds of wonderful stuff. Makes dropping the ball in Times Square look kind of tame.

I won't be swinging any fire balls but I decided, in honor of the occasion, I would institute a new food tradition in my household. After careful thought and particular attention to the muted growling from my tummy, I decided the perfect Hogmany dish would be -- tah dah! -- chicken enchiladas!

Okay. Enchiladas are not ordinarily associated with things Scottish, I'll admit that. If I used some Scotch Bonnet chili peppers in them, I might be stretching the connection hard enough to fit. Or if I could find my tape of bagpipe music, I could play that while eating the enchiladas. It only takes a little imagination to Scotchify this south-of-the-border dish. Not too much imagination, though. I did have a brief vision of haggis-stuffed enchiladas but decided that was a bit too advanced for my brand new tradition.

Anyway, the recipe I want to share with you is not for the enchiladas, per se, but for the enchilada sauce. This is tweaked from a recipe I found at Recipezaar. If you go there and type 109685 in the Search box at the top of the page, you'll be taken to the original recipe, which we're told comes from a woman who was born and raised in Mexico City. I figure that gives it the chops for authenticity, don't you?

My version netted me around 5 cups of sauce, which was 2 cups more than I needed. Not a problem -- I just poured the remainder in a quart canning jar and popped it in the freezer for later use. And this am da way it goes ...


In medium-sized sauce pan, combine:
3 tablespoons chili powder
3-4 tablespoons flour (I used 4)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin

Measure out 3 cups water. Pour in enough to make a sloppy paste. Set pan on medium heat, slowly add the rest of the water, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until mixture thickens. ("Thicken" is a relative term. It would coat the spoon but wasn't as thick as, say, gravy.) Add 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, stir in and remove from heat. Cover with lid until ready to use.

A note about the tomato sauce ... I only had a 6 ounce can of tomato paste. What I did was, I scooped the paste into a 2-cup measuring cup, added 2 cans-worth of water and a half-teaspoon of sugar to cut the acid and stirred it well. That gave me almost 2 cups of sauce, twice as much as needed for the recipe. However, we're told measurements for this recipe can be very flexible so I just used the whole 2 cups. Worked just fine.

No matter how creative you get with this sauce, don't leave out the cocoa! That's the secret ingredient. Very important.

As for the enchiladas, you can pretty much stuff them with whatever you happen to fancy. I poached a chicken breast in chicken broth and then shredded it with a fork. It's amazing how far a single chicken breast will go when it's been soundly forked. Then I tossed the chicken with about half a finely minced sweet onion, a couple of tablespoons of finely minced canned jalapeno peppers and about a cup of cottage cheese. This made enough stuffing for 8 enchiladas, with enough left over for me to eat like a salad as a reward once I got the goodies in the oven.

Ladle some of your sauce in a baking dish, soften your corn tortillas, 2 at a time, for 30 seconds in the microwave. Drag each tortilla through the sauce and plop some stuffing in the middle. Roll it up and place it in the baking dish. (You can use a dinner plate for the stuffing and rolling but I find it easier to just work right in the baking dish. You'll build the last enchiladas right on top of the ones you've already placed.)

Once they're all tucked in, pour sauce all over everything, sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and put in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

I'll tell you what ... as far as brand new traditions go, I think this one is a keeper. And who knows? Maybe one of these fine Hogmanays, I'll be brave enough -- or senile enough -- to actually do the haggis-stuffed enchilada.

Oh! Dear Coffee Mates -- have a fantastic Hogmanay and an even better Ne'erday!


John Bailey said...

Love the idea of having a 'traditional' New Year dish but, you know me, I'll give the enchiladas a miss! Here's wishing us all and particularly you, Dee, a wonderful 2009.

Wendy said...

Dee, thanks so much for the enchilada sauce recipe! Now I can get my enchilada fix even if the pantry doesn't contain one of those yellow and red cans.

Happy new year and all best wishes!

kate et jim said...

Happy Hogmanay and Ne'erday, Dee!

Wonderful recipe - Jimbo will be most pleased when I make this one!

I couldn't stay up last night - nope - went to bed early and now I'm up and ready to go to work! Ugh.

Happy Happy!

bb said...

Can just imagine the lovely smell coming from your kitchen. :-)

Best NYear to ya. Having snow?

Maggie said...

I love encheledas, but today I think I will skip the mole sauce. Tomorrow I may feel better and will reconsider. :)