Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas

 THE GAME: Patriots vs Chiefs

The NFL is back. That doesn't please me in the same way that the return of college football did last weekend - and certainly not nearly as much as the annual return of baseball every spring - but there is something decidedly comforting about it. 

The County Fair is going on. Traffic in my neighborhood becomes miserable between 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon as the elementary, middle and high schools - all within a four-block radius of me - get out at the same time. At night, I turn off the AC and open the windows. 

These are all reminders far better than an arbitrary date on a calendar: summer is over. It's football season. 

NOTES ON THE FOOD:
  • Enchiladas are the first dish that I ever learned to make. (Unless you count cheese-and-mustard sandwiches. I do not.) My grandmother showed me and two friends how to make them when we were 11 years old and, for some reason lost to memory, we had to make them for our sixth-grade class.
  • My grandmother was a wonderful woman, however she was from the Midwest - born during the Great War and a teenager during the Great Depression - and she had almost no idea what she was doing when it came to Mexican food. So even though she taught me the basics for making enchiladas, I've never again made them using her recipe. Tonight was no exception. 
  • I bought two chicken breasts from the local butcher - already marinated - and roasted them in the oven. 
  • I also purchased a bottle of the marinade that the butcher uses.
  • I shredded the cooked chicken with two forks, threw the pieces in a bowl, and added another half-cup of the marinade. 

  • La Reina is a tortillaria established in East Los Angeles in 1958. I have never had better flour tortillas out of a package. 
  • I've written about Uncle Ben's "Ready Rice" before - the Jasmine and "Spanish Style" rices are a guilty pleasure of mine. 

  • I mixed the heated package of rice with the chicken, layered a good amount into flour tortillas, rolled them up, and placed them in a baking dish. 

  • I baked the rolled-up tortillas in the oven for 20 minutes, until they just started to become golden brown, then I pulled them out. 
  • Unlike the tortillas or rice, I have no preference as to the kind of enchilada sauce I use. Sometimes it's red, though when the enchiladas are chicken, I usually use green. 
  • I emptied the can of sauce over the tortillas and topped it with a mix of shredded cheeses, then put it back in the oven for another few minutes. 
  • At this point, I check on the enchilas every couple of minutes. You want the cheese to melt, of course, but you don't want it to melt too much, otherwise it turns into a pool of grease. 
  • Once the cheese had reached the perfect amount of melt, I removed the dish from the oven, topped it with a generous amount of fresh cilantro, and used a spatula to load two big pieces onto my plate. 
  • I then drizzled it with a bit of "creamy street sauce." I won't lie - this had much less to do with flavor than appearance. There were so many flavors going on here that a bit of insipid, creamy sauce was not noticeable. 
  • This particular batch were the best enchiladas I have ever made. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • I turned to NBC just in time to see them starting to recap the Super Bowl. I immediately turned. It still makes me want to throw my remote control. As I wrote last February, I have been watching better teams choke against the Patriots for more than 15 years now, but I will never, ever see anything like Atlanta blowing a 25-point lead in the second half of the Super Bowl.
  • Oh Jesus Christ. I turned to the U.S. Open for a few minutes before turning back to NBC, hoping to watch some football. Instead it's Mark Wahlberg live at the stadium, introducing a video of Super Bowl highlights. Maybe watching this game was a mistake. Maybe I need to cross Patriots games off my list this season - just like I have UCLA football - until the playoffs. (For, uh, the Patriots... not UCLA.)
  • I hope this game is really close in the 4th quarter and it comes down to a battle of wits between Belichick and Andy Reid. I feel like there's a good drinking game to be invented there. 
  • Maren Morris is singing the National Anthem. She's a country singer, though I had to Google her to learn that. On ESPN College GameDay Saturday morning, the guest picker was also a country singer of some renown, and I had never heard of him either. I'm not sure if I just don't know anything about country music these days, or pop culture in general. I'm guessing it's the latter. 
  • The Patriots get the ball and score in less than three minutes. Seems about right. 
  • Kershaw is pitching for the Dodgers in 80 minutes - maybe this game will be over by then and I can watch some baseball. The Dodgers have lost 11 of 12 games; the only game they've won in that stretch was Kershaw's start that I wrote about last Friday. 
  • WTF? I went to get a glass of water, came back 90 seconds later, and New England still has the ball. 
  • Ah, apparently Kansas City's rookie running back, Kareem Hunt, fumbled the ball. In four years of college, wanna guess how many times he fumbled? Zero, of course. But, you know, it's against the Patriots now, and even rookies know that they're supposed to make mistake after mistake against New England. 
  • The Patriots now have a 32-yard field. Screw the Dodgers at 7:10 - this game might be over in time for me to watch Pawn Stars at 6. (KC actually stopped them on 4th-and-short.) 
  • Commercial Note: Is a dramatic miniseries on the Menendez Brothers something that the public has been clamoring for? They killed their parents, they confessed, it went to trial anyway, and then they were convicted. Am I missing something? What could a miniseries add to the subject 28 years later? (Or are people just fascinated by psychopathy and greed and there is always a market for both?)
  • Both teams have had impressive drives. New England leads 17-14 at halftime, but after what happened in the first five minutes, Kansas City should consider that a major victory. 
  • I turned to the Dodgers game at halftime. Kershaw has given up 3 runs in the first inning. The Dodgers have plenty of time to stop this free-fall - especially once Seager and Bellinger are healthy - but it's still something to witness. The Dodgers from early June to late August were one of the four greatest teams I have ever seen. 
  • Back in the football game, Alex Smith connects with Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown and suddenly the Chiefs are up 21-17 with 9 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Commercial Note: Tom Cruise is playing Barry Seal in the new movie American Made. Back in 1991, there was a made-for-HBO movie called Doublecrossed with Dennis Hopper playing Barry Seal, and I absolutely loved it. (Of course, I was 12 years old; I also loved professional wrestling and wearing MC Hammer pants.) 
  • A quick Google search reveals that you can watch the whole movie on YouTube. Now I know how I'm spending my Friday night. 
  • Patriots score again. Kansas City got called for two penalties that gave New England first downs on the drive. It looked like they were good calls, but still, Kansas City has been called for 12 penalties for 119 yards. New England has been called for two penalties for 35 yards. Typical New England home game. 
  • Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt team up for a 78-yard touchdown pass, annihilating former Bruin Cassius Marsh on the play. 28-27 Chiefs in the 4th quarter. This is a much better game than I anticipated. Sorry for being a dick to you earlier, Kareem.
  • NBC with a great stat: the Chiefs have three drives of 90+ yards tonight. They had one in all of 2016. 
  • My new favorite player Kareem Hunt with a rushing touchdown. 35-27 Chiefs. There is no possible way Tom Brady can come back from this. 
  • (For the love of God, that was a joke.)
  • 42-27 Kansas City. They have carved up New England's defense tonight. 
  • That's how the game ends. That was more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined. 
  • Still, does anyone expect that the Patriots won't be in the AFC Championship Game in January? You're crazy if you do. 

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