Chili and fried egg enchiladas are tasty any time of day
Is your mealtime routine drifting toward the culinary doldrums? Change it up a bit: Serve breakfast for dinner.
Breakfast for dinner — or “brinner” — is the powerful lure that draws people craving bacon, eggs and home fries to 24-hour diners. Breakfast for dinner puts the grease in “greasy spoon.” And there’s something liberating about sitting down late at night and uttering that early-morning benediction: “two, over easy.” Not to mention that eating breakfast for dinner seems slightly subversive, like wearing shorts to work or eating dessert first.
When you think of eating “brinner,” you are most likely not thinking of a bowl of Cheerios, oatmeal or a smoothie. You are thinking of something substantial: a ham-and-cheese omelet, or corned beef hash, or an egg strata, or grits and cheese. So here’s a breakfast that virtually screams “dinner”: a meaty chili spooned over corn tortillas and served with a fried egg on top and salsa on the side.
The recipe comes from a new cookbook called “Big Ranch, Big City” by Louis Lambert (Ten Speed Press, 2011), a Texas-born chef who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, opened restaurants in San Francisco, and then returned to his roots with eateries in Fort Worth and Austin.
Lambert may have proved that you can, in fact, go home again, but he sure gussied himself up before returning, bringing with him some decidedly citified interpretations of down-home delicacies. He takes a fancy-pants ingredient like quail, for example, dips it in a beer batter, fries it and finishes it with a jalapeno peach glaze. He makes a Southern staple like fried pie with beignet dough and fills it with pears and candied ginger. He dresses up a plate of humble fried green tomatoes with crab remoulade.
Most of his food is like this: a balance of gutsy and gourmet. But Lambert occasionally lets his inner Texan speak louder than his outer chef, as he does in his chapter on Tex-Mex cooking and in a “Soups & Stews” section with some hearty favorites such as gumbo, chili and posole. His recipe for Stacked Chili Con Carne Enchiladas with Fried Eggs is a standout. You could even serve it for breakfast.
STACKED CHILI CON CARNE ENCHILADAS WITH FRIED EGGS
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the tortillas
1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup dark chili powder, preferably ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
12 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups salsa verde, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Make the chili con carne: Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a large skillet over high. Add ground beef, onion and garlic, and cook until the beef has cooked through and the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar; cook for another minute. Add flour, stirring to combine with the meat, then stir in chicken stock and tomato paste. Bring chili to a simmer and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. If the chili becomes too thick, add a splash of water.
Assemble the enchiladas: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. With a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon, place a tortilla in the pan and heat, turning once, until it’s soft and pliable, about a minute. Place the tortilla on an oven-proof plate and cover with a large spoonful of the chili con carne and a large spoonful of cheese. (If you don’t have plates that can be heated to 375 degrees, you can assemble the stacks on a baking sheet, then transfer them to serving plates when they come out of the oven.)
Repeat, stacking 2 more layers of tortillas, chili and cheese on top of the first. Repeat the process, building 3 more enchilada stacks on 3 more serving plates (for a total of 4). Place the plates with enchiladas in the oven and heat until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
While the enchiladas are in the oven, fry 4 eggs any way you like them. Place a fried egg on top of each stack of enchiladas and serve with salsa verde on the side.
Yield: 4 servings
• Recipe from “Big Ranch, Big City: Recipes From Lambert’s Texas Kitchens” by Louis Lambert with June Naylor (Ten Speed Press, 2011). Marialisa Calta is the author of “Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family” (Perigee, 2005). For more information, go to http://www.marialisacalta.com.