The May Daring Cooks challenge was very special since Barbara and I hosted the challenge. This was quite the undertaking. We agreed to do at the end of last year and started working on it January, exchanging information and drafts via e-mail. Since our challenge ran from April 17 to May 14 and included May 5, Cinco de Mayo, we decided to do a Mexican dish. As it turned out, this was a very popular choice!
Our recipe was stacked chicken enchiladas with a green chile sauce. Above is the photo of the raw ingredients. The little green things with papery husks are tomatillos, an ingredient which is frequently used in Mexican cooking but which is not universally available around the world, as we found out.
Challenges have to be something that stretches the Daring Cooks. We required a homemade sauce. If the ingredients or flavors for the green tomatillo and chile sauce were not available or not something the cook thought would work, any other sauce was an option. People did red sauces, moles, cremas, and some very innovative things with local ingredients (North African sauce, anyone?). While we suggested stacked enchiladas with corn tortillas, people were free to roll their enchiladas or use flour tortillas or even some other substitute if tortillas or the ingredients for making them were not available. We suggested using grilled chicken, but there were beef, black bean and a wide array of other fillings used. And we used Monterey Jack, but there were lots of other cheeses, including Mexican cheeses, that people added to their enchiladas. Recipes are supposed to include variations for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free cooking. This recipe was really ideal for all that. Corn tortillas for those avoiding gluten; vegetarian fillings for those avoiding meat; cheese optional for the vegans - worked out really well.
The creativity of the cooks was absolutely amazing. And the pictures! As I took my turn commenting on and complimenting those Daring Cooks who posted their results, I was drooling continuously. So many intriguing combinations, interesting marinades and solutions to problems finding ingredients - truly inspirational.
This was my final product and it was just as good as the first time I made this recipe years ago. I added some chipotle Tabasco sauce to the chicken, along with salt, pepper and some cumin, making the heat in the dish slightly more pronounced. The roasted chiles and tomatillos make a really succulent and spicy sauce. Below is a picture I "borrowed" from Barbara of the chiles as they went from raw to roasted. Mine looked pretty much the same, but her picture was better (thanks, Barbara).
From the comments we received, I think the Daring Cooks really enjoyed this challenge. For many of them, it was an introduction to Mexican cooking; for others, it was a chance to try something new. And, as might be expected, there were also a few mentions of margaritas on the menus!
My very special thanks to Barbara, without whom I could not have done this. She not only has an incredible blog to showcase her creative culinary endeavors, she is a master of the world of blog technicalities and dealt with the links, the pictures and the formatting. Plus her pictures were really good and she has an eye for detail. I think we were a good team and I'm very proud of our efforts.