While it feels like ancient history now (as I sit here writing this on the eve of Lockdown 2.0...) when Lockdown 1.0 was first announced, the public seemed to collectively lose their minds. Loo roll on the black market, hand soap stripped from the shops, pasta in scarce supply (unless you liked orzo, which remained, strangely unloved, on the shelves).
Of course, I created a sourdough starter following instructions on Instagram, and the flour shortage meant we then trekked up to the Ewing's parent's to exchange white powder over the fence for slices banana bread. I also, in what I considered a moment of inspiration after all the sliced bread had already been taken, smugly picked up a packet of corn tortillas after braving the queues for the supermarket.
Tortillas that were bought in the early summer but, by September when their best before date loomed, still sat, slightly sweaty in their shrink wrap, at the back of the cupboard. Never one to like to see things go to waste, I looked through my cook books to see what fancy ingredients I could buy in order to save a quid on the wraps...
Enter The Border Cookbook - featuring the cuisine of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, which I think came into my possession via a book sale after being donated the the library many moons ago, and has sat, unloved on the shelves (and for a long while in a box in a loft) ever since.
Along with the tortillas I also had a bag of tomatillos looking for a happy ending. While only one of the tomatillo plants we tried to grow this year thrived (which also meant no fruit as, unlike their red cousins, they need a mate to pollinate) we had picked some up when we visited Worton organic garden for lunch the weekend before.
With tomatillos and corn tortillas, my fate was sealed and I settled on enchiladas verde - the tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken and topped with cheese and a green salsa made from roasted tomatillos. I also added some green tomatoes from the ones that stubbornly refused to ripen in our front garden.
To go alongside the enchiladas were frijoles borrachos, or drunken pinto beans. Slow cooked in dark Mexican beer (or Kentish lager, if that's what you have to hand) with onions and garlic and served with plenty of fresh coriander and a spritz of lime.
And also a simple, but perfect bowl of tomato rice, made of long grain rice cooked down with more Worton fruit, this time perfectly ripe ox heart tomatoes. Packed full of umami from their high glutamic acid content that makes my gums tingle when I think back to it. And that's a wrap.
Enchilada Verdes (adapted from the Border Cookbook)
One small cooked chicken, (or two/three chicken breasts) skin and bones removed and meat shredded (rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is perfect for this)
tomatillo salsa (see below)
250ml creme fraiche (plus more to serve)
8 corn tortillas
1 onion, roughly chopped
150g cheddar cheese, grated
coriander, to serve
500g tomatillos (or green tomatoes), husked and rinsed
1 fresh jalapeño pepper/green chilli
2 garlic cloves
1/4 medium onion, chopped
large handful of coriander
1/2 lime, squeezed
Preheat the grill. Place the tomatillos, jalapeño and garlic on baking tray. Grill, turning occasionally, until they’re blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
Let tomatillos, peppers, and garlic cool.
When they are cool enough to handle add ,along with onion, coriander and lime juice, to a food processor/Nutribullet. Pulse until the salsa is mostly smooth and no big chunks of tomatillo remain, scraping down the sides as necessary. Season to taste
Preheat the oven to 180.
In a shallow bowl or dish, combine the sauce with the creme fraiche.
Take a large baking dish and spread a thin layer of the green sauce on the base
Top a tortilla with a small handful of chicken, a couple of teaspoons of onion, and about a tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the tortilla snug but not tight. Transfer the enchilada to the baking dish.
Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and filling. Top the enchiladas with any remaining onion and pour the sauce evenly over them. Scatter the rest of the cheese over the sauce.
Bake the enchiladas for 15 to 18 minutes, until they are heated through and the sauce is bubbly.
Top with more cold creme fraiche and chopped coriander to serve.