My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week 3 - BBQ Shrimp Enchiladas

What a big week! #1 Alabama makes their much anticipated trip to #6 Texas A&M this Saturday. I don’t have to tell you that the Aggie victory last year stunned pretty much everybody outside of College Station, and really was the game that propelled JF to the Heisman. I always thought that the battle with LSU the previous week beat Bama down emotionally and physically just enough to make them vulnerable to TAMU. People seem to forget: A&M jumped out to a 20 point lead in the first quarter and then scored 9 points the rest of the game. The legend has grown over time, but it was a closer game than your Aggie friends (and we’ve all got at least a couple) want you to believe! They didn’t just waltz into Tuscaloosa and lower the boom. Any other week, I don’t think they would have beaten Bama and then maybe – just maybe we wouldn’t have had to hear about JF all summer long!

But what’s done is done and here we are for Round 2. In my opinion, Nick Saban is clearly the best coach right now, a top 5er of all time, and could one day be the best ever when all is said and done. One of my favorite things about him is during interviews, he always acts like he’s being interrupted in the middle of coming up with a scheme or on his way to go watch film. He even seems annoyed when he gets the championship Gatorade if now a shirt change is one more thing standing between him and going on a recruiting trip. No matter what he says though, he’s had this one circled for about 300 something days. I’m sure many a night in 2013, Nicky played possum with his wife and pretended he was going to sleep, waited until she fell asleep, and tiptoed out of bed to go watch more A&M film. **Little known fact: I actually invented this move in 2006 so I could play my NCAA Dynasty on Play Station (the key to REALLY selling it is steady, deep breathing and lying very very still).**  Part of his greatness is his ability to keep his team in the short term/present, so I don’t think vengeance is a theme he is preaching this week, but as competitors you know it’s there. Plus a bye week to prepare? The Tide are going to be ready. That defense is nasty, and while JF will make some plays because he’s an athlete, they will force him into some mistakes and Bama will win by at least a touchdown.

The Menu this week is actually inspired from another game: #24 TCU at Texas Tech. I’m not a fan of the 2 qb system so I’ve been leery of TCU, but it looks like the football Gods went ahead and took care of that for Gary Patterson. Only problem is, the better qb is the one that got hurt. It’s going to be crazy in Lubbock Thursday night – almost “
I DREAMED IT IN MY HEAD” crazy. There’s going to be tortillas everywhere and I’m picking the Raiders in an upset. So this week I’m using tortillas and borrowing from one of Fort Worth’s most famous restaurants, The Reata. I’ve wanted an excuse to make the Barbecue Shrimp Enchiladas from the Reata Cookbook since I bought it, and tortillas and TCU sounds like as good of a reason as any!

Barbecue Shrimp Enchiladas from Reata: Legendary Cuisine
This is basically a 3 step process. You make the enchilada sauce, then the shrimp, then assemble the enchiladas.

1-The Sauce
Start out by making the barbecue enchilada sauce. It's pretty easy, just put all the ingredients together into a saucepan. You've got ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Tabasco, Worcestershire, yellow onion, bay leaf, ground espresso beans, and heavy cream.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Then remove from heat to cool. It should be a dark orangish color:

2-The Shrimp
Coat a pan with oil and heat over medium high. Saute the garlic until it becomes a toasty brown color.

Add the shrimp and then dust with salt and pepper. Cook them for about 3 or 4 minutes. You actually don't want them to be completely done because they will continue to cook while they are baking in the enchiladas. Shrimp are so easy to overcook and no one likes rubbery shrimp!

FYI-Shrimp doneness test: If they're shaped like a "J" they're just right - if they are shaped like an "O," OH NO! Smaller shrimp like these are curled up anyway, but next time when you've got bigger shrimp..... 

3-The Assembly
You'll need a dozen tortillas. I like to just buy a dozen from Rosa's. I say no thanks to the Mission store bought ones, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! These are the best in my opinion. If you do go the store-bought route, I recommend that you zap them in the microwave to soften them up. Cut half an inch off the edge to make for easier rolling.

Spread about 1/2 C of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish (I used a 11 x 13). Just enough to lightly coat. Then set up your assembly line: tortillas, sauce, shrimp, cheese, baking pan. 

Pour about a tbsp of sauce down the middle of the tortilla. Put about 4-5 cooked shrimp on top, then sprinkle 2 heaping tablespoons of cheese. Roll up as tight as you can then put it on top of the sauce in the pan. Tortilla, sauce, shrimp, cheese, roll. Rinse and repeat until you use all the tortillas.

Once you fill the pan, pour about 1 1/2 C of the sauce, then top with 3/4 - 1 C cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for about 15 mins on 350, or until the cheese bubbles and the edges get slightly crusty.

And the finished product (mine actually took closer to 20 mins).....

This is a very interesting dish because you don't normally think of barbecue with enchiladas or cheese with shrimp. For my family and me though, the dish works. It may take you a couple of bites to get used to a "shrimp" enchilada and the taste of the sauce is complex in a way. Make sure that you taste the sauce and like it because it really is the star of the dish and your opinion of the sauce will probably be the same as your opinion of the dish. One thing I would say in the future, I might cut back on the onions from the prescribed 3/4 C to 1/2 C because I found the sauce to be slightly "oniony" for my taste buds. But if you dig onions, leave it. I had leftover sauce and cheese, too so don't be alarmed. If the seafood isn't for you, shredded chicken would also work very well.

All in all, we liked it - its a great Tex-Mex curveball and I will make it again someday. Have a great week and enjoy!

Barbecue Shrimp Enchiladas
from Reata: Legendary Texas Cuisine

Enchilada Sauce - Makes about 4 cups
3 C Ketchup
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 tsp Tabasco Sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 C yellow onion, diced
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp ground espresso beans
1 C heavy cream

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to rapid boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool. Allowing it to thicken will make assembling the enchiladas easier.

1/4 C oil 
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs fresh shrimp (41-50 size), raw, peeled, deveined
kosher salt

Coat a saute pan with oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute until garlic is toasted to a rich brown color. Add the shrimp and immediately dust with salt and pepper to lightly coat. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often (the goal is for the shrimp to be cooked to a medium temperature when assembled in the enchiladas. Baking the enchiladas will cook the shrimp a little more.)

Enchilada Assembly
(12) 8 inch flour tortillas
4 Cups BBQ enchilada sauce
3-4 C shredded Jack cheese
1 1/2 C sauteed shrimp

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of a large baking dish with about 1/2 C of the enchilada sauce.

Cut a 1/2 inch strip from the side of each flour tortilla and discard. Pour about 1 tablespoon of Enchilada Sauce in a straight line through the center of each tortilla. Place about 4 or 5 of the cooked shrimp on top of the sauce. Sprinkle 2 heaping tablespoons of the shredded cheese on the cooked shrimp. Roll the tortilla tightly (like a small burrito) and place in a baking dish that has been coated with enchilada sauce.

Nestle the 12 assembled enchiladas side-by-side in the coated baking dish. Pour the remaining 1 1/2 C of enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the remaining 3/4-1 C of shredded cheese over the sauce. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, so the cheese doesn't stick to the foil.

Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese topping begins to bubble and the edges of the enchiladas turn a little crusty. Remove from the oven and let rest about 5-10 minutes before serving.


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