Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seafood Enchiladas

 Once in a blue moon I'll find myself in a Mexican restaurant (granted, often as far from "Mexican" as Minnesota is from our Southern border).  On these rare occasions I'll find my hopes raised at the thought of a tortilla wrapped around succulent little bits of shrimp, crustaceans and mollusks in a creamy sauce.  Inevitably those hopes are dashed as my fork pries out flakes of imitation crab and bits of anemic shrimp, with little else.

These enchiladas are a step in the right direction.  The end result is directly related to the quality and variety of seafood you put into them.  I opted for crab, shrimp, scallops and john dory fillets.  But salmon. lobster and many other varieties of flaky fish would serve nicely.

adapted from a recipe at Betty Crocker

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken, fish or vegetable stock
8 oz sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (monterey jack, cheddar, queso quesadilla and asadero)
1 can (4.5 oz)  chopped green chiles, undrained
8 oz small scallops, raw
8 oz salad shrimp, raw
2  fillets john dory or other firm white fish, raw
1/2 cup crab meat, cooked and flaked or 2 - 6 oz cans, drained
8 - 8 inch flour tortillas
Diced tomato, avocado and cilantro for garnish

The Process:
Preheat oven to 350.

In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in flour and stir until blended with butter. Add broth and heat to boiling, stirring frequently to remove any lumps.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add scallops, shrimp and fish fillets and poach until the fish begins to flake and the shrimp and scallops turn opaque, about 5 minutes.  Remove the seafood to a medium bowl and cover to keep warm.
Add sour cream to the saucepan and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in chiles.

In 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish, spoon 1 cup of the cheese sauce over bottom. Set aside.

Add 1 cup of the cheese sauce to the reserved seafood. Stir to combine, gently breaking up the fish fillets.  Add the crab meat and stir to combine.  Spoon about 1/2 cup seafood mixture onto each tortilla. Roll up tortillas; place seam sides down on sauce in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.

Cover baking dish with foil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve warm with tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.

The Review:
These enchiladas were a wonderful change of pace from the underwhelming varieties sold at tex-mex chains, as well as a richer alternative to the tried-and-true ground beef versions smoothered in a tomato based sauce.  Ross opined that, well incredibly good, these are a little too rich to replace our favorite beef and garlic ones when an enchilada craving hits.

The sauce was rich and mild, with a lovely seafood flavor due to using the base being used to poach the seafood.  During the cooking process, I sampled the sauce throughout and was in love with its velvety texture and subtle heat from the canned chilies.  So it was a bit of a surprise that the seafood flavors dominated the end result, almost completely masking the chilies.   A second can of chilies or hotter variety may be called for next time around, should I want a peppier sauce.

Two enchiladas easily provided four gut stuffing entrees. But given how rich these plump enchiladas are, served up with rice and a salad I'm sure you could stretch the serving size to eight people. 

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