Like most everyone I know who grew up in San Diego, Mexican food runs thick in my veins. Parts of Mexico feel like home to me as much as parts of California do, and when I recall childhood food memories, it’s south-of-the-border meals that come to mind. Family takeout sometimes meant a trip to Tijuana and back. My dad would take us kids to his favorite cantina there and challenge us to try the spiciest salsa. You don’t know what you’re missing, he’d say, his forehead breaking out in a sweat as he reached for his beer, my siblings and I fearful (but fascinated), gearing up the courage to join him.
Childhood weekends meant camping trips to Ensenada, where my parents’ friends dove for abalone that was later thrown on the grill for dinner. A high school trip to Mexico City introduced me to street food (and warm churros, my idea of after-school snacking). College years meant bombing down to Roasarito Beach for freshly caught lobster and salty margaritas; and post-college trips to the Costa Careyes and Puerto Escondido were filled with ceviche and grilled sea bass. And more margaritas.
It wasn’t until I moved to Marin years later that I tried enchiladas suizas (Swiss style). The now-defunct Cactus Café in Mill Valley had suizas on the menu that I ordered again and again. The chef was a sun-worshiping surfer who made suizas with goat cheese, not something I connected much to the Mexican food of my youth. But oye, they were tasty. I’ve been trying to recreate them ever since.
Chef Margarita Carrillo Arronte has brought all my favorite childhood recipes together, plus about 682 more, in her muy fantastico Mexico: The Cookbook. What Julia Child did for French cooking and Paula Wolfert did for Moroccan food, Chef Arronte does for authentic Mexican cuisine. And now that I no longer live in a border town, I need this book more than ever. I’m guessing you probably do too.
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This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Patricia!
- Butter, for greasing the baking dish
- 30 tomatillos
- ½ onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 serrano chiles
- 1¼ cups (½ pint/300 ml) sour cream, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 18 Tortillas
- 4 cups (1 lb 5 oz/600 g) chicken, cooked and shredded
- 1¼ cups (5 oz/150 g) grated Swiss or gruyere cheese
- cilantro (coriander) garnish
- Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile in a saucepan, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until thoroughly combined. Pour the tomatillo mixture and sour cream into a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200ªC/Gas Mark 6). Grease an ovenproof dish with butter.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan or skillet over high heat. Briefly dip the tortillas into the hot oil, one at a time, for about 10 seconds, then remove and drain on paper towels. Keep warm under a piece of aluminum foil.
- Fill the tortillas with shredded chicken, fold over into tacos, and put them into a deep baking pan. Pour the tomatillo sauce over the tacos to cover completely, sprinkle with the cheese, and bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese has melted.