I usually use poached chicken in enchiladas, but have even used rotisserie chicken, which is always moist and gives me chicken from all parts of the bird. Just for something a little different, I decided to grill some flattened and beer-brined chicken breasts for these enchiladas, and it made all the difference. The brined chicken was the definition of succulent.
We were fond of red and white enchiladas—using both enchilada and cheese sauces—until my husband’s lactose intolerance, so I’m skipping the cheese sauce, using a little more enchilada sauce, and less shredded cheddar. I make my own enchilada sauce, which has been posted on this site a few times, I think, and it makes a big difference. If you have never tasted enchilada sauce that doesn’t use tomatoes, I urge you to try it. Here’s the recipe again, adjusted to make 3 cups:
Prepare Reconstituted Dried Chiles
- Rinse 6-8 dried ancho chiles, remove stems and seeds
- Tear into pieces so they fit in a small container or bowl
- Cover with 3 cups boiling water, submerging the peppers as much as possible; cover container with plastic wrap
- Set aside for at least 45 minutes; reconstituted peppers will be dark red, soft, and pliable
- Place reconstituted chiles in blender with half the liquid and puree, adding the rest of the liquid through the lid opening
- Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp—stir slowly in the strainer with a spoon until all the liquid is out and only the pepper fiber remains in the strainer (about 5 minutes)
Prepare Enchilada Sauce
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 cloves of grated garlic in saucepan over medium heat until you can smell the garlic
- Stir in 2 tablespoon flour until smooth
- Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pour in pepper puree and 2 tablespoon white or rice vinegar
- Stir and simmer until slightly thickened
Grilled, Beer-Brined Chicken Enchiladas
At least 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups enchilada sauce
1 small onion, diced
1 3/4-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8-10 8″ flour tortillas
- Flatten breasts to a uniform thickness, maybe a little less than 1/2″, between plastic wrap.
- Place chicken in large dish with brine (see below).
- Cover with plastic wrap and brine for at least 4 hours.
- Remove chicken from brine and grill over direct heat, turning once, closing grill lid between turnings. The chicken cooks after about 5 minutes per side at 300° but use a thermometer to test for an internal temperature of about 165°
- On a large cutting board, pull the grilled chicken into large shreds. I only used 3 of the breasts for 7 good sized enchiladas. The two breasts left over will not go to waste!
- Mix the pulled chicken with about 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 small diced onion.
- Fill 8″ tortillas (mine were whole grain) with about 1/3-1/2 cup of the meat and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Place filled tortillas in large baking dish with about 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce spread over the bottom.
- Pour the remaining enchilada sauce down the center of your row of enchiladas and sprinkle with more cheddar.
- Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges of tortillas are beginning to brown.
- 2 12 oz bottles beer
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
I also made a small pot of black beans, but I’m retired, so don’t feel like you have to go all out.
The grill is all cleaned up and ready to go, even if the weather hasn’t been cooperating. I did get to use it a couple of weeks ago, but the warm days are still sparse here next to cold Lake Erie. Today looks to be the best day of the week before more rain and cold arrive. I admit, I shopped as if it were the grilling season already only to find myself using the slow cooker or the oven for some things I would have preferred on the grill. One purchase was a packer cut beef brisket that I cut up into the flat and point pieces. Today I’m going to slow roast the point, the piece with more marbling, using the snake charcoal method with a few applewood chips thrown in along the way. Here’s one of many videos on YouTube on how to trim a brisket:
That video trims the fat, but leaves the two parts together, which would be way too much meat for us at one time, so I separated the two pieces, as this next video shows:
But, of course, the temperature never got up to the promised 66° and I fooled around too long in the morning and never got the meat on the grill until 11 AM. After 6 hours, and the snake about to burn out, I tested the brisket and it was at 175° and still a little resistant to the probe, so I wrapped it in heavy duty foil and put it in the oven for an hour while the sweet potatoes were baking. It all worked out and was tasty and tender.
A little foil under the thin end
- I just threw together a quick rub of kosher salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, brown sugar, and black pepper and let it sit for a few hours (overnight would have been better).
- I added 2 bottles of room temperature beer and a little boiling water to the drip pan to keep moisture in the grill environment.
Other than that, there’s not really a recipe here, just that old charcoal snake method and a big hunk of beef. I’m saving the brisket flat in the freezer for some real grilling weather.
Dragged out the deep fryer and mixed up some more 2-ingredient beer batter. Did that last year with perch, but I suspect people are still afraid of the simplicity of this batter, which I originally ran across for onion rings. I’ve never seen it on the web, so it must have been passed on in a handwritten note or by word of mouth. After all, there’s not much to write down—equal amounts of beer and flour. That’s where people get nervous about things like salt or cornstarch or baking powder or OMG an egg. But as I’m sure I said before, we’re not making pancakes here. We want a light crispy coating, much like tempura. I think I’ll throw in a few onions for garnish on the sandwiches. It’s been a long time since I made the onion rings. A long time.
Today’s beer is some kind of Octoberfest, which I think means the beer is stronger or malty. I know it’s making the batter a little orange-yellow, and I’ll be interested to see what it does to the flavor. The batter itself, even after it sits for hours, is thick and I would say glutinous or viscous; it kind of sheets off your foods, although it works best with onion rings. With fish, just dry them off before immersing in the batter.
I thought hard about using one of my cast iron pieces for the frying (skillet or Dutch oven), using either the stovetop or grill, but in the house, that’s such a mess with the splattering, and I’m concerned about not having good heat control on the grill. Nothing worse that trying to fry in oil that won’t hold its temperature and getting soggy, oil soaked fish. Besides, I’ve got the huge electric deep fryer that works like a charm. It’s just a shame to use a gallon of oil for one meal. I will not re-use oil used for frying fish, unless you bring me more fish tomorrow.
Oh, mercy, if there were ever a day when I could eat another sandwich….
Beer and flour
Frying some thin onion rings
Lake Erie Fried Walleye and Onion Rings
The batter has to sit on the counter for 3 hours, so factor that into the total time. Increase amounts based on your ingredients.
Simple Beer Batter
equal amounts of beer and all-purpose flour—I used 1 1/2 cups of each
- Combine the beer and flour, cover bowl, and let sit on kitchen counter for 3 hours.
Frying Fish and Onion Rings
1 1/2 lbs walleye, skinned and boned, cut in 4-5″ lengths for sandwiches
2 small onions, sliced very thin and separated into rings
salt, for seasoning after frying
- Set up your deep fryer or heat oil in a large Dutch oven to 375°
- If frying both fish and onion rings, do the onions first, so they don’t take on any fishy taste.
- Slice onions to your desired thickness—I just wanted a small amount of very thin rings.
- I took about 2/3 cup of the batter and mixed it with my onion rings. If you’re only making the rings, you could just put all the batter in with them.
- When the oil is ready, drop the rings in, using a long fork, trying to keep them as separate as possible.
- I covered my fryer and cooked them until browned.
- Remove the onion rings to a rack over a sheet pan and place in a 200° oven while making the rest.
- Dredge fish pieces in batter and cook a few at a time so they are not crowded in the fryer or pan. I put a small piece of non-stick foil on the bottom of my frying basket to keep the batter from sticking. Fry until browned. Walleye are thick, so each piece took at least 5 minutes to be done. Smaller fish are done more quickly.
- Remove fish to draining rack with onion rings and keep in oven until all the fish is fried.
Remember to salt the onion rings and fish as they come out of the fryer. We ate the fish in sandwiches with coleslaw and onion rings on the side.
My posts may have slowed down in the summer, but, don’t worry, we’re still eating every day. I just haven’t been sitting in the house writing about it. Next week, we have company, so I may not be writing then, either, but if I make anything interesting, I’ll get pics to write about it later.
Today, I’m trying some brined center-cut pork chops on the grill. They are not quite as thick as I had hoped for, but neither are they those paper thin chops that are so prevalent. I’m expecting them to cook quickly and to stay juicy because of the brine. It’s a beer brine again, but this time I added some sugar in the form of maple syrup. Brine hint: If you’re looking up brine recipes, run away from any with more than 5 ingredients.
Brine for 4-6 hours
Dry and season for grill
Keeping the bugs off
Wow! Beer-Maple Brined Pork Chops, Grilled
4-5 center cut loin pork chops, at least 1 inch thick
1 bottle beer
3-4 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Optional: 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Place the chops in a large sealable plastic bag or a shallow dish.
- Mix up the brine ingredients until syrup and salt are dissolved and pour over chops.
- Seal bag or cover dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, turning chops as necessary.
- Bring chops to room temperature while you set up grill for medium-high heat, direct or indirect.
- When the grill is at about 400° open the lid and place the chops over direct heat to sear. You can cook them entirely over direct heat (my preference) with the lid closed for a minute while each side sears, turning once or twice, until the internal temperature reaches about 145° or you can sear them over direct heat, then move to the indirect side and close the lid until they are done. I like to keep my eye on them with the lid open, because I don’t want to miss that moment when they are just done. You’ll have to judge by the thickness of your chops and your willingness to eat them a little pink or not.
I had 4 chops, cut with the bone and both the loin and tenderloin sections, neither of which you want to be overcooked. My chops were about 3/4 inch thick, but one—the one hidden on the bottom of the package—was very thin on the loin side, so I watched it very carefully. I would have preferred them all to be a little thicker, but it was the best I could do at the time. That’s why I cooked them over direct heat, only closing the lid for very short periods. I would do the direct/indirect method for thick chops, searing first and moving away from the direct heat until done, but these are not too thick. I turned them only once and tested them with a thermometer inserted in the loin side shortly after the second side had grill marks. I had the charcoal—only 50 briquettes—piled in the center of the kettle, but I didn’t need any indirect areas for these chops. I would say they cooked about 5 minutes per side, including perhaps a total of 2 minutes with the lid closed.
I had to amend the title of this recipe to reflect my husband’s response—Wow! I stopped counting after about 13 wows, but he was right, they were tasty, tender, juicy, maybe the best pork chops we’ve ever had. I’m guessing it was the maple syrup. Luckily, we had scalloped Gruyere potatoes from the night before, so I didn’t have to do any other cooking, and they went very well with the pork.