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A Whole New Enchilada

series: Mexico -- One Plate At A Time With Rick Bayless

air date: 5/06/13 12:00 PM

Rick's out to dispel the notion that an enchilada is all about smothering tortillas in sauce and gooey cheese. At Cafe Azul y Oro in Mexico City, he shows us the iconic Mexican version of the dish: a corn tortilla in a red mole sauce and rolled around a light, simple chicken filling. From that classic formula things can, of course, get more inventive and Rick shares with us one of the more unusual, though still classically grounded enchiladas on Chef Ricardo Munoz-Zurita's menu: an enchilada of jamaica, or dried hibiscus flowers that tastes like a cross between pickled beets and cabbage. From there he takes us to Cafe Tacuba, a Mexico City Institution since 1912, where the signature Enchilada Especial is a comforting concoction with a chicken, spinach and poblano chile filling, bathed in veloute sauce and browned under the broiler. It's so good, he can't resist showing us how to make his one Cafe Tacuba-Style Creamy Chicken Enchiladas in his home kitchen in Chicago. Back in Mexico City, he brings us to another hallowed enchilada eatery, the Casa de las Enchiladas, for a lesson in the four "pillars" of enchilada construction: the tortilla, the filling, the sauce, and the garnish. Here, diners get to build their own enchilada by choosing from several options in each category. That gives Rick an idea: in the kitchen of his fine-dining restaurant, Topolobampo, he challenges his chefs to design a new enchilada special for the restaurant - each choosing a "pillar" to work on. In a fast-paced, reality-style race to the finish, the chefs create a surprising dish, proving in the process that a "whole enchilada" is greater than the sum of its parts.

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