Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How I Rock the Restaurant (& Delish Chicken Enchiladas)

I remember delivering baskets of hot, fresh chips and large cups of salsa to those skiers in their apree' ski splendor. Tourists and long-time Vail locals basking on the sun-drenched deck, guzzling margaritas and watching people tumble down Pepi's Face as they attempted their first black diamond.

I was only five. And so after putting in about 35 minutes of work, and running up and down the ramp skirting my parents' restaurant, Los Amigos, my brother and I would make a snug nest of ski parkas under the hostess stand and take a little nap.

It was the life of a entrepreneurs' child. In my 18 years under my parents' loving and caring roof, I became intimately acquainted with the miniscule details of the restaurant business. Making people feel at home in our restaurants was their specialty, and they did it well. I fondly remember my mom bouncing customer's babies to sleep as she seated people who had been waiting an hour and a half for a famous margarita and Shirkie's Special Jalepeno Bean Dip and Tacos Buendorf.

It became a part of people's routine when they vacationed in Vail, spicy dishes at the Hong Kong Cafe with slightly racy and funny fortune cookies, mouth-watering prime rib and creamy garlic mashed potatoes at Whiskey Creek Stockman's Club, and those famous margaritas on the sunny deck of Los Amigos.

There were over 30 Vail hotspots built by my parents, all with ingenuity and love and creativity and attention to detail. Delicious ingredients, expertly composed and served with superior service from waitresses that made our restaurants their home, and your home, for over 20 years (Yes, I am talking about you, Miss KK and Tim!)

I loved the restaurant business, it was familiar and comfortable to me, like a second language spoken with eloquence and ease. By the time I was in high school, I could host, bus and wait on over 10 tables at a time when my dad's final restaurant and namesake, Shirkie's, found itself short-staffed. In college, I rejected offerings to manage restaurants because the cash was better and the hours more suitable for a college lady if I waited tables.

Familiar and comfortable as it was, I vowed NEVER to go into the restaurant business for a career.

And here I am, mother of four small children, being lured back in... and loving it.

Caleb's uncle, Thomas, has opened a restaurant- T. Blanco's. Serving up savory Chili Rellenos and Stacked Enchiladas and a spread of other Gourmet Mexican Dishes, this place is sure to be a favorite for East Texans. I am looking forward to working with Thomas and his son, Mason, to deliver some great service and even better food.

More from me on that later... But in the meantime I will share one of my fave mexican dishes, that is simple as can be and even my kids love them. As McClaine said last night, "You make these 'chiladas, mom? I love these 'chiladas, mom."

And by the way, it is soooo not simple to photograph as you cook, makes me wonder if PW has a photographer while she is dealing with grease and heat and chicken guts.

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

You can use a rotisserie chicken or canned chicken, but I think the flavor is better and the chicken is more tender if you do it this way...

Buy your chicken with the skin on and the ribs, for the FLAVAH! If you get sicked out like me, from raw chicken, just do what I do, use a fork to get it out of the package and drop it in the pot.
Use about two to three big 1/2 breasts.
From January '10

With half an onion. And I don't like the stink of onion on my hands, so I don't cut that up.

From January '10
Now fill your pot with water, just to cover the chicken plus an inch. Add some coarse ground pepper. About a teaspoon.

From January '10
And some coarse ground salt or Kosher Salt, about a half teaspoon.

From January '10

Then put the lid on and bring to a steady boil. Boil about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout and tender. When you stick your fork in and it falls off the bone, you are there.

While the chicken is cooking, put about a 1/2 an inch of olive oil in a frying pan and heat it up. It needs to be good and hot, so if you take a tiny piece of tortilla and drop it in, it will bubble and float to the top.

From January '10
You are going to need about 12 to 16 corn tortillas. Drop one in the oil for about ten seconds, then using tongs, flip to other side and give another 10-15 seconds. You want the tortillas to have a slightly chewy consistency, not soggy, and not crisp like a chip.

From January '10
Drain off oil on paper towels. Repeat for each tortilla, adding more oil if necessary. I would only do one tortilla at a time, otherwise they may stick together.

From January '10

When you finish, and while your chicken is still cooking, make up your sauce. Get a big can (28 oz) of green enchilada sauce- my favorite brand is Hatch, but I had Las Palmas on hand. Pour into a mixing bowl and add a dash of Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder and Garlic Powder. You can add more if you like them spicy, or leave it out if your kids are faint-hearted with the spicy food.
From January '10
Then add a couple dollops of sour cream. About two tablespoons. Mix it up.

From January '10

Pour a thin layer of sauce into the bottom of a deep baking dish. Add a layer of tortillas.
From January '10

Then add a layer of shredded chicken.
From January '10
It's so much for appetizing when it is cooked.

From January '10

Then shred some cheese over it. About a 1/3 cup per layer.
From January '10

Now repeat sauce, tortillas, chicken, cheese. Repeat again.

Then do sauce, tortilla, sauce and cheese for your final layer. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

I would love to show you the final product, but I was too busy feeding five hungry mouths to go all Polaroid on my fam.



Chelle said...

Yum, Tyne! I am now craving a margarita and some chicken enchiladas...


LeeAnn said...

So stoked about you helping at T Blancos, I know you will do fabulous things for them :) Cannot wait to see you, just over a month away!

Anna said...

Yum! I'm excited to try and make those! I have been making the recipe for green chile lasagna you put up a while back and our whole family is loving it! Thanks for sharing Tyne!

Mrs Montoya said...

I am not much of a cook, but I know my family would love this. I want to try it this weekend. Thank you for sharing your sweet memories and the delish recipe. I'll let you know how mine turns out. I can't wait!!

Katie W said...

HMMMM! Those look amazing! I didn't know about your parents' restaurant empire, Tyne! I only had the humble experience of working at the Smokehouse Restaurant in Van Horn (which has since burned to the ground), but I always feel that the dealing-with-people skills I developed then have served me well!

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

You've been a short order cook for years. Why not step out of your comfort zone and get PAID for it?

Congrats on the job!

Vashey Fam said...

Ok, so we are REALLY looking forward to coming over now!! I feel privileged that I get to eat these babies!

Carol said...

Yummy, yummy!

what an exciting opportunity. Good luck to you all.

You just took another step up the superwoman ladder in my book honey.

Jenny said...

Mmmmm... sounds delicious! Wish I could eat some of those 'chiladas right now! I'm just catching up on your blog-- it's been a few weeks. I enjoy reading it! PS- Our baby arrived!!

Erin said...

Thanks for the yummy enchiladas Tyne. My family and I LOVE them!