Since Brian was out of town over the weekend and is the resident chef of his household, I made dinner for Maggie, her mom, and Ian on Sunday. I made a recipe called Budin de Tortillas (similar to chilaquiles or Mexican lasagna) from Rick Bayless' cookbook, Authentic Mexican. Rick Bayless won the Top Chef Masters competition last year (an incredible feat) and I have eaten at his delicious restaurant Frontera in Chicago, so his recipes are pretty fail-safe. This dish is made by layering lightly fried crispy corn tortillas with jack cheese, crema (Mexican sour cream), roasted pasilla peppers, and a tangy and spicy tomatillo salsa. The salsa is fairly time consuming but absolutely worth it. You have to blanch the tomatillos (tart green Mexican tomatoes), take them for a ride in the food processor with onions, serrano chiles, garlic and cilantro, and then reduce the mixture with chicken stock over the stove. You bake it in the oven until it gets nice and crusty and top with sliced radishes and scallions. Mmmm.
I decided to improvise a bit and added in some chipotle and jalapeno sausage from Branded Meats butcher on Horizon Ridge that was phenomenal. It takes awhile to get out there but they have great selections of unique items that are hard to find elsewhere, such as quail and glace de viand (Veal cooking base), as well as seafood and home-made soups that change daily. Not all their meats are all-natural (meaning they have been fed antibiotics or hormones at some point in the steers lives), which was somewhat disheartening, but the quality is certainly much better than your average market.
Changes I would have made: more salsa, more cheese, more sausage, more roasted chiles, and maybe some shredded roasted chicken as well. The casserole was a little heavy on the tortillas so adding more of each ingredient would have made the dish shine.
Tonight's food rating: 7.5
Would I make it again? DEFINITELY
Tip: Go to a Mexican supermarket like Mariana's on Sahara and Valley View to buy produce and special ingredients for Mexican cooking. The prices are are much more reasonable than your regular supermarket and the quality and selection are generally better, too.