Pioneer Woman Enchiladas & Marjorie Johnson Cornbread

Do you read the Last American Baker blog?  I do.  I love it.  Danny Klecko is funny and honest and he provides a peek into the world of professional bread baking that I find interesting and often surprising.  This past week he posted a recipe for corn bread.  A friend of a friend was looking for a good cornbread recipe and the Last American Baker was right there to help them out.

Where does Danny Klecko go for cornbread recipes?  Marjorie Johnson.  If you don't know who Marjorie Johnson is, where have you been?  Never mind the thousands of Minnesota State Fair ribbons she's won, she's been on Leno and every national morning news program.  My very favorite Marjorie Johnson appearance was on Martha Stewart's show.  She schooled know-it-all Martha on how to make a pie crust.  It was very entertaining!

Marjorie wrote a cook book a few years ago.  I have a copy, a signed copy even.  I was lucky enough to meet this 4-foot-tall giant at an event at Cook's of Crocus hill.  She was delightful.  We had a nice chat and she signed my book!



It was the cornbread recipe from this book that Danny recommended.  He added his twist, suggesting substituting sour cream for half the milk.

We couldn't just have cornbread.  Well, we could, but really cornbread needs a main.  We'd both been hungry for some good Mexican food and my mind drifted to enchiladas.   We haven't had them in years, it was time.  I scoured my closet of cookbooks and found just the recipe I wanted to try in Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook.  I had a plan.  Let's start with the corn bread.

I'll admit it.  I use boxed cornbread mix.  Well, let's make that used boxed cornbread mixes.  I don't think I will again.  I guess I thought cornbread was too putzy to make from scratch.  I don't really know why I used boxes, but I should have consulted Marjorie years ago!

Everything in this recipe is standard stock in my kitchen.  It mixes together in minutes and bakes into some of the best cornbread I've ever had.  The ingredients, flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, eggs, butter and milk.  I bet you have all of these in your house!  

Danny uses a foil.  Marjorie uses a 9" square pan.  I didn't have a foil.  I did have a 9" square pan.


The dry ingredients are mixed and set aside.  The wet ingredients are mixed and carefully added to the dry, just until things are mixed.  Pour this in the prepared pan and bake.  Isn't this beautiful?  It's a beautiful crusty brown color.  It has a pure corn flavor and that crispy outside with a crumbly interior that cornbread should have.  No more boxed cornbread for me.



The enchiladas took just a touch more preparation.

Here is a LINK to the recipe including a great story by Ree and her step-by-step pictures.  You'll note she used cilantro in hers.  As you may know, cilantro tastes like soap to me.  I can't tolerate even the slightest bit of it.  I left it out.

The sauce is what I would call a "doctored up" enchilada sauce.  It' starts with a flour and oil roux to which canned enchilada sauce and chicken stock are added.  This is brought to a boil then left to simmer while you prepare the rest of the enchiladas.


There are a few steps to the enchiladas but they go together pretty quickly.  Ground beef (I use that good grass fed Highland beef from Butternut Woods Farms) is is browned with an onion and to that diced green chilies are added.


Next you fry the corn tortillas in oil.  I didn't really understand this step until I did it.  Ree says to just fry them long enough to make them soft, not brown.  I found about 10 seconds made them soft.  Corn tortillas tend to crumble when you try to roll them.  This step made rolling them a snap!  I did find that you need quite a bit of oil.  I was trying to use as little as possible and the tortillas started sticking to the bottom of my pan.  Once one stuck, others stuck to that and I had a mess!  Don't skimp on the oil!


The tortillas drain on a paper towel lined plate.


Chop a few green onions, open a can of black olives and grate some cheese and all of the ingredients are ready for assembly.  I used a deliciously sharp cheddar from Eichten's.

To assemble the enchiladas each tortilla is dipped in the sauce and placed on a cookie sheet.  I had a couple of flops here too.  The sauce was still warm so I used a tongs and, well, I had a couple of tortillas crumble.


The rest worked great.  Each tortilla is topped with a little of the beef mixture, some green onions, olives and cheese then rolled up and placed in a baking dish.  Once the dish is full more cheese is added and it's baked in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.





I served them with a little sour cream and that delectable corn bread.  These were delicious!  The thickened sauce and softened tortillas gave them a creamy texture I wasn't expecting.  They almost melted in your mouth.  I love green chilies, I used fire roasted ones and that flavor came through.  Dave went up and got a third one and then ate a fourth while he was doing the dishes!  And lucky for me there was another one left over for me to take in my lunch the next day!

Dave wants to try these with a green sauce next.  I don't think he'll have to wait long!


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