Sunday Dinners: Black Bean and Pork Stew and Enchiladas Suizas

October 5, 2012

Enchiladas Suizas

Enchiladas Suizas with Spanish-style barley.

We are lucky to be prepping for a trip to western and southern France soon, and in doing so we are immersing ourselves in all things French: beautiful wines, delicious cheeses and of course the language. Having had only a year of French classes way back in high school, I’ve been practicing with some nifty software I bought, but I’ll be damned if my Spanish doesn’t keep intruding like a jealous friend I’ve been ignoring.

Le bâtiment, c’est près d’ici?
Sí, está muy cerca. Sólo tres minutos, más o menos.


So it’s perhaps not surprising that, while our heads have been in Provence, our Sunday dinner menus have been on a little south-of-the-border tour recently. We should be priming our palates by cooking coq au vin or cassoulet, but instead we’re drawn to delicious frijol con puerco and enchiladas Suizas. (At least Switzerland is next to France.) A recent Saveur magazine — the Mexico issue — is partially to blame; that and we have a soft spot in our hearts for Mexico and its food.

Heating tomatoes and habaneros

Tomatoes and peppers for the magic sauce.

frijol con puerco

Frijoles con puerco, aka pork and beans.

A week ago Sunday we bought a pork shoulder and made the black bean stew, a richly flavorful dish augmented by a zesty puree of tomatoes and onions that tastes very similar to Thomas Keller’s soffritto, except with a snap of habanero that lingers on the tongue. The frijol dish is simple: browned cubes of pork, garlic, onions and black beans, all stewed together. (It’s especially simple since we used canned black beans.) The magical sauce I mentioned is made by blistering a pound of Roma tomatoes and habaneros in a hot pan, then transferring them along with half a cup of white onion and a couple of cloves of garlic to the Vitamix to puree. Afterward, the puree is fried in a quarter-cup of canola oil until slightly reduced. I can’t stress it enough: This is a marvelous sauce that serves as a soffritto would, bringing beautiful flavor and a bit of heat to just about any dish.

Chicken enchiladas in the pan

Delicious enchiladas. A whole pan.

Last Sunday, tempted again by Mexico and by the fact that it’s tomatillo season, we launched into enchiladas Suizas. This too is a simple recipe once you get past the basic prep. The ingredients list calls for three cups of shredded chicken, expedited by the availability of grocery store rotisserie birds. Somewhat labor-intensive is the charring of the tomatillos (husks removed) under the broiler and then, without losing any juices, removing the thin skin to reveal the gelatinous membranes within. (Hint, do this part over the blender, ’cause that’s where they’re going.) There they are joined by two poblano and two serrano peppers (also blackened and peeled), 3/4 cup of sour cream, a cup of boiling water, garlic, cumin and cilantro, then blended until smooth. Mix a cup of the enchilada sauce with the shredded chicken and you’re ready to assemble.

The earthy bitterness of the tomatillos and peppers with that hint of cilantro make for a light-tasting, refreshing sauce, so different from red enchilada sauces prevalent in many restaurants, and definitely more intense than the mild, creamy enchiladas Suizas I’ve encountered. Once the prep work is done, this is an easy-to-assemble meal that would be ideal for make-ahead entertaining.

France, you are a flirtatious distraction for us these days, and we cannot wait for our upcoming date. But deep down, our first love is Mexico. Ahora y siempre.

2 Responses to “Sunday Dinners: Black Bean and Pork Stew and Enchiladas Suizas”

  1. levimike said

    Now, there are real enchilades…..zowwie! I can’t wait to have them.


    Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2012 02:33:28 +0000 To:

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