The Atlanta-based chef Ford Fry might live in Georgia, but he knows a thing or two about Tex-Mex.
Fry operates more than 15 restaurants — Marcel, Beetlecat, The Optimist and St. Cecilia, among them — but his Tex-Mex restaurants El Felix and Superica, which recently expanded to Houston, were the inspiration for his first cookbook, "Tex-Mex Cookbook: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border" (Clarkson Potter, $29.99).
Once overlooked as simply a hybrid of Texas and Mexican foodways, Tex-Mex has been gaining steam as its own cuisine in recent years, and to write this book, he teamed up with local food writer Jessica Dupuy to explore its many variations. They include recipes for classics, such as pozole, tres leches and tacos al pastor, to regional favorites, including West Texas-inspired "ox eyes," or eggs poached in red chile sauce, San Antonio-style breakfast salsa and queso from the now-closed Felix Mexican Restaurant in Houston.
RELATED: An easy spin on chicken enchiladas from America’s Test Kitchen
Taco cleansing with kale, caramelized onion enchiladas
Even though the origin of Cinco de Mayo is far from the Texas border, the holiday has become a celebration of all things Mexican and Tex-Mex, so if you're looking for another recipe to add to your collection, consider these cheese-topped enchiladas suizas, which are simply green enchiladas with sour cream incorporated into the tomatillo sauce.
On just about every Tex-Mex menu, chicken enchiladas with verde sauce is an option. The tangy flavor of the tomatillos in the sauce is a perfect match for the corn tortillas and shredded chicken. Enchiladas Suizas, so named for the Swiss immigrants to Mexico who introduced dairy farming to the country, include sour cream, which adds a richness to the enchiladas and makes them decadent.
— Ford Fry
1 (4-ounce) can crushed tomatillos
1 (4-ounce) can whole green chiles
3/4 cup chopped poblano peppers
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped fresh tomatillos
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup sour cream
Vegetable oil, for softening tortillas
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
1 cup shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken (or homemade roasted chicken)
4 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup cilantro chimichurri or additional chopped fresh cilantro
Place a rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat source and heat the oven to broil. Spray an 8-inch-by-12-inch baking dish with cook spray.
In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the canned tomatillos, green chiles, poblanos, onion, fresh tomatillos, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, salt and cloves. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables have softened, 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth. (Alternatively, carefully transfer the mixture to a regular blender and purée until smooth, then return it to the pan.) Stir in the sour cream to combine. Taste and add more salt as needed. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep the sauce warm.
Fill a Dutch oven or large heavy pot with oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Using tongs, dip a few tortillas at a time into the hot oil until softened, 3 or 4 seconds. Stack them on a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.
Place a softened tortilla on a clean work surface, spoon 2 tablespoons of the chicken down the center, and roll up to enclose the chicken. Place the rolled tortilla seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken. Top the enchiladas with the sauce and sprinkle with the Chihuahua cheese.
Broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Top with the queso fresco and chimichurri or additional cilantro and serve warm. Serves 4.
— From "Tex-Mex Cookbook: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border" by Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy (Clarkson Potter, $29.99)