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Only a few guests have ever tasted this dish at The Fort, but every cook there knows how to make it. The reason? Although it's not a regular menu item, it's my favorite way to cook chicken, so I often ask for it. It's fast, it's simple, and if you like the combination of cilantro and serrano chile, you'll find it delicious. Sharply pepper hot, the chiles offset the mildness of the chicken.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6- to 8-ounce skinless, boneless split chicken breasts
2 serrano chiles, finely minced (remove the ribs and seeds before mincing for a milder dish)
2 tablespoons whole cilantro leaves
2 green onions, finely sliced diagonally
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Heat the olive oil, and when it is quite hot, quickly brown the chicken. Remove from the pan and set aside. Lower the heat and sauté the rest of the ingredients in the pan until the onions and chiles are slightly browned.
Return the chicken to the pan and turn it in the chiles and onions. Serve, garnished with sprigs of cilantro.
In Mexico, dishes with cheese or cream are often called suiza, Swiss. This enchilada suiza is served flat, like a sandwich, in the New Mexican style. It was one of our more modest entrees during The Fort's first years, and one immensely wealthy family ordered it regularly. We were flattered, but in those tight times we always hoped that they'd eat something more expensive! Now, with shrimp prices so high, the dish is nolonger cheap. For a scrumptious and more cost-effective meal, use leftover chicken or turkey instead of shrimp.
2 cups whole milk
2 pounds Monterey jack cheese, cubed (8 cups)
1 cup chopped hot green chile
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of Mexican leaf oregano
1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)
12 large corn tortillas
Approximately 1 cup chicken broth
1 to 1 1/4 pounds Gulf white shrimp, cooked, peeled, and cut into bite-size pieces
12 sprigs whole fresh cilantro
12 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced (optional)
Make the enchilada sauce by heating the milk in the top of a double boiler until almost boiling. Turn down heat and keep it as low as possible. Add the cheese. It will melt slowly, but this is better than turning up the heat or overcooking it, which renders it stringy and tough. When the cheese has melted, stir in the green chile, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and oregano. Keep the mixture warm over warm water until you're ready to use it. If it seems more souplike than saucelike, don't hesitate to thicken it with 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water.
The easiest way to prepare the enchiladas is to assemble them on ovenproof dinner plates. If you don't use ovenproof plates, place the tortillas on sheet pans covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper, but transferring them can be tricky.
Preheat the oven to 500 °F.
Dip the tortillas into the chicken broth to soften them.
For each serving, use 2 tortillas, 1/6 of the shrimp pieces, about 1/2 cup cheese sauce, and I whole shrimp. Place 1 tortilla on each plate, cover with shrimp pieces, and pour half of the sauce on top. Cover with the second tortilla and pour over the rest of the sauce. Place the plates in the oven for 4 minutes so that the cheese browns a little on top. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and a whole shrimp. An additional garnish we like is a ring of green olive slices.The Fort Cookbook. Copyright © by Sam Arnold. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.