Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mexican Style Lasagna

After a long, sad, dry spell from cooking, I'm finally returning to the kitchen on a regular basis, and ideas are starting to surface again.  Not sure what prompted this one, but whenever a new idea comes to me I try to run with it.

I've seen various Mexican Lasagna dishes floating around, and they all look wonderful, but one thing I noticed, is they all seem to use either corn or flour tortillas as the "pasta".  I decided I would try to take this to the next level and make it the closest version of authentic Mexican cuisine I possibly could, keeping both "lasagna" and "Mexican" in mind.  I carefully selected true Mexican cheeses, I made the sauce (enchilada) from scratch using re-hydrated dried chiles and made a chili  powder infused pasta. Now it's time to get cooking.

Chili Infused Pasta Dough

1 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1 pinch cumin (just a pinch!!)
2-3 tbsp. water
1 egg yolk

Kitchen Aid Mix directions: Place flour, garlic salt, cumin and chili powder in mixing bowl and mix together by hand.  Place dough hook on mixer, add egg yolk and water and mix on med. speed.  If dough does not come together as a ball, add a little more water, about 1 tsp at a time.  Once dough forms a ball, knead for about 1 minute.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

By hand directions:  Place flour in a large semi flat bowl or on counter top, mix in chili powder, cumin and garlic salt.  Make a well in the center, add the egg yolk and a little water at a time mixing by hand till dough starts to stick together. Knead for about 5 min. Form into a ball, wrap tightly in saran wrap. Let rest for at least 30 min.  

After dough has rested, cut into 4 quarters, using your KA pasta roller, roll each quarter out starting with the widest setting on your roller. Fold in half and send through roller again. Now adjust roller to the next smallest setting.  I go down to my next to thinnest setting. You want a thin dough, but not thin enough to see your hand through.  If rolling out by hand, roll thin strips.

Next, make your sauce (if you chose to use a can sauce, try to find a good rich quality sauce, you will need approximately 2 cups).

Enchilada Sauce

2 guajillo dried chiles
2 New Mexico dried chiles
2 Pasilla chile peppers
2 c chicken stock, low sodium if using store bought (home made is better)
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 corn flour (masa harina)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/8 tsp cumin
1/4 granulated onion
salt to taste

Break your dried chiles in half and remove seeds.  Now tear them apart a bit more, place in small pot of water.  Bring to a simmer and let the go for about 5 min.  Turn off heat and place a lid on them. 

While the chiles are re-hydrating, warm your chicken stock and cook your taco meat, (see next step).  

Remove the chiles from the water and place in a food processor.  You can add a little of the water from the pot, about 1-2 tbsp.  Now puree the chiles.  I like to push my mixture through a sieve to make sure there are no little bits of chile skin left.  Set aside.

Add about 1/4 c of cooking oil to a skillet.  Once oil is med. hot add in 1/4 c corn flour to make a roux, stir for a minute or two then add the chile paste.  Stir that in well, add the granulated garlic, onion, and cumin and stir.  Now add the chicken stock, stir constantly until mixed well and no lumps, now let simmer on low until it thickens.  You don't want a super thick sauce, but you don't want a runny sauce either.  Once sauce is medium thick, taste and add salt if needed.  

You might end up with more sauce than you need, but it keeps well in the fridge for several days or it can be frozen.  It's great to pour over burritos or chimichangas.

Taco Meat

2 lbs of lean ground beef
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp granulated onion
salt and pepper to taste

Break up your ground beef in a skillet, add seasonings and brown. Set aside.

Cheese's for Filling

8 oz Oaxaca (Mexican Mozzarella), grated
8 oz Manchego  (Mexican Parmesan), grated
12 oz Mexican Crema Sour cream (use instead 
of Ricotta)

Everyone has a different way of layering their lasagna, but this is how I did mine:  Spoon a little sauce in the bottom of a 12" cast iron skillet, or baking dish (I also spray the sides of my dish with non stick spray).  Layer with pasta, no need to precook pasta since it's raw, it cooks very quickly.  

Now spoon on some Mexican Crema and spread out over pasta. Next add half of your taco meat, then ladle on some sauce, just enough to cover meat, then some grated cheese, (about 1/2 of Oaxaca & 1/3 of the Manchego).  Now add more pasta strips and repeat.  After adding my second layer of goodies my skillet was full to the top, so I stopped at that point (2 layers).  I had additional Manchego cheese left, so I saved it for another meal/dish.

Bake at 400ยบ for about 45 minutes or until cheeses are all bubbly and browning.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes....if you can wait that long, then slice, dish, and dig in. These combination of cheeses gave it a nice chewy texture and the flavor was deliciously Mexican, and unlike any other Mexican style casserole I've had before.  I would have to label it the perfect "Mexican Lasagna".