Fall is finally hitting the Bay Area and I could not be happier. A crisp chill in the air, the warm muted hue of the leaves and the smell of wood burning in fireplaces are all things that get my heart racing. I love Fall…I would venture to say I am a Fall junkie. By nothing else, my closet is testament to my love of Fall. I have sweaters, coats, scarves and boots that could clothe a small army. To me, Fall is glamour and sophistication. Having grown up on the east coast, Fall was a magical experience as it signaled the start of the holiday season.
What it also meant was the start of a full assault on the kitchen. The summers in the East and Midwest are scorchers, so cooking was normally kept to a minimum indoors. Summers were filled with grilling and BBQ, normally jobs assumed by my Dad who preferred to fly solo. Autumn marked the shift of the cooking moving indoors, enabling me to join my step-Mom in preparing dinner. While my step-Mom was not a great cook, she was great company and I happily spent many evening listening to her record collection and dicing/slicing/stirring away.
Pumpkin Enchiladas reminds me of Fall not only because of its use of pumpkin, but because of its rich and wonderful earthiness. The dish itself is a warm shade of ochre and fills the house with a wonderful mix of spices and savoriness. The recipe originally came from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food, but has been modified. I found the original recipe lacked a depth of flavor and texture, so I added onions, brown sugar and adobe peppers to my version. In addition, I also made my own pumpkin purée which I encourage you to try as it brings the dish to a new level.
* 1/2 Roasted Chicken, skin removed, meat shredded & removed from bones
* 1/2 large red onion, chopped (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
* 6 scallions, thinly sliced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1 jalapeño chile, quartered (remove ribs and seeds for less heat, if desired)
* 1 adobe pepper with tablespoon of sauce
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon brown sugar
* 8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
* 1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, chopped onion and scallions. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. In a blender, purée pumpkin, garlic, jalapeño, adobe pepper, chili powder, 2 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth (hold top firmly as blender will be full). Pour 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish.
3. Lay tortillas on work surface; mound chicken mixture on half of each tortilla, dividing evenly. Roll up tortillas; place, seam side down, in baking dish.
4. Pour remaining sauce on top; sprinkle with cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet; bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Note about pumpkin purée:
A) Make sure you are purchasing pumpkin purée and not pie filling. You will not pleasantly surprised when you find out you just made a pumpkin chicken pie.
B) If you can, make your own pumpkin purée – it’s not that hard. Slice one sugar pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and innards. Place halves, face down into a pan containing 1-cup water, 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until tender. Let cool, scoop flesh into a food processor and purée until smooth. Can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen.