Hands down, one of the things I miss most about New Mexico is the NM Christmas. I always get so homesick this time of year!
So a few years ago, I decided, the heck with it! I’m going to bring a little bit of NM to southeast TX. A Taylor family tradition was born: a NM-themed Christmas Eve.
I wish I had taken pictures! I guess you’ll just have to rely on my descriptions.
I don’t often get the opportunity to entertain, so I had a ton of fun decking out the house. I even used tablecloths, people. It’s not that I’m opposed to tablecloths, but in my house, they’re merely enormous kitty napping magnets. My cats see a tablecloth, carefully straightened and dressed on a table, and immediately jump up and settle in for a long winter’s nap. Sure, that tablecloth might be very comfortable, but most people (rightfully so) prefer not to eat their dinner on a surface that’s coated in cat hair.
With the tables coiffed, I jumped into the cooking. Hubby and I boned three chickens to mix up for a yummy enchilada filling. It’s really simple: chicken (both white and dark meat), chopped onions, sour cream, grated cheese, and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic, cumin). With three chickens, I nearly filled a 2 quart container!
Then came the rolling. I prefer my enchiladas rolled instead of flat. Usually, in deference to the calorie count, I just warm my corn tortillas in the oven to soften them up a bit. While it helps, it doesn’t completely solve the problem of the tortillas cracking. Let’s be honest, a cracked enchilada isn’t a serious problem unless you’re concerned about aesthetics. Even a cracked enchilada tastes divine.
Since this is a holiday and we were hosting family, I decided to go with the tried-and-true method of prepping the tortillas with hot oil. It’s messier during prep, and you might still get a few cracked tortillas, but it makes a huge difference in the look of the finished enchilada. The oil coating also helps prevent mushy enchiladas, so I’ve been told, but I’ve never really had a problem with mushiness. Now, you don’t want crispy tortillas, so I heat the oil on medium-high, then turn it to low for a quick dip. You can either dab the oiled tortillas on a paper towel-covered plate or let them drip on a rack over a cookie sheet. Just don’t let them dry out too much or you’ve defeated the purpose!
Next on the menu was homemade pinto beans. Cooking beans scared me—they just seemed so mysterious and difficult. But they’re not! I found this slow cooker pinto beans recipe online and it couldn’t be any easier. I do use more chile powder and add cumin. They’re definitely a permanent part of the tradition now.
The feature of the evening is the luminarias. The first year I did this in our then-new house, I got some very odd looks from my neighbors. I can only imagine them driving by wondering why I had flaming paper bags in my yard. But they’ve gotten used to it. Someday I may actually try to mobilize my whole block into Luminaria Duty. Until then, I have my one little yard of luminaria happiness.