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Black Bean Tortilla Casserole with
Smoky Chipotle, Avocado, and Sour Cream Chilaquiles de Frijól Negro



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Black Bean Tortilla Casserole with
Smoky Chipotle, Avocado, and Sour Cream
Chilaquiles de Frijól Negro

Rick Bayless
In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs

by Julia Child with Nancy Verde Barr,
1995, Alfred A. Knopf


“Chef Rick calls this dish an example of real Mexican ‘soul food.’
Any time tortillas are fried and then simmered in a sauce, they
chilaquiles, and that’s soul food. This is probably the
most soulful of all because the sauce is made not from tomatoes
or tomatillos but from earthy, simple black beans.
In addition, it is wonderful for parties because you may cook the
bean sauce several days ahead, fry the tortillas the morning of the
day, and all you have to do is assemble it at the last minute. You
might serve
chilaquiles with breakfast, or at lunch with a salad, or
alongside a pork or beef dish.”

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings

For the beans
1 1/4 cups dry black beans
5 cups poultry or meat broth, or water,
plus more of needed
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and
roughly chopped
3 canned chiles chipotles en adobo
(canned chile peppers) plus
2 teaspoons of the tomato-flavored
adobo (flavored can juices)
1 branch of epazote *
Salt to taste

For the tortillas
1 1/2 cups corn oil
Twelve 5- to 6-inch corn tortillas,
sliced into 1/2-inch strips
8 good-size leaves of epazote *

For the garnish
1/2 cup homemade thick cream (crème fraîche) ,
or store-bought sour cream thinned with a
little heavy cream
1/4 cup finely grated aged Mexican cheese,
‘queso añejo’, or other aged cheese, such as
dried feta, aged Monterey Jacks, or
mild Parmesan
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and
cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Special Equipment Suggested
A colander;
a 4- to 5-quart kettle (for simmering the beans);
a ladle; a food processor or an electric blender;
a 12-inch skillet or saucepan 3 to 4 inches deep
(for simmering the purée); a deep fat-frying pan or
another 12- by 4-inch pan; a deep-fat-frying thermometer
(useful but not essential); a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate or
other deep platter for serving

* Epazote: This is stinkweed. It has a pungent flavor and many people think of
it as the most Mexican of culinary herbs. The plant is characterized by pointed,
serrated pale green leaves with tiny green balls for flowers. It is not easy to find
in its fresh state but is available in specialty markets dried. Many people substi-
tute the more readily available cilantro and it is fine to do so, although the
flavor will be entirely different. (Some people insist that a little fresh epazote
cooked with dried beans minimizes their gaseous effects.)

Julia on Crème Fraîche
Traditionally, French heavy cream know as crème fraîche has been made
with cream that is allowed to thicken and ferment slightly so that it takes on
a pleasant, very slightly sour taste. Its advantage over sour cream is that you
can boil it without curdling; and because it is heavy cream, it has a far
richer taste.
You can buy crème fraîche, or you can make a good substitute. One method is to
mix a tablespoon of cultured buttermilk with a half-pint [1 cup] of heavy cream,
let it stand out at normal room temperature for several hours, and it will thicken. Another way is to whisk a cup of heavy cream in a bowl with a cup of sour cream until it thickens to the consistency of light whipped cream. Use as is or let it stand out for several hours and it will thicken and sour a little more. In any case, when
it is thick enough and sour enough for your taste, bottle and refrigerate, where it will keep for quite a number of days – a week at least.”

Cooking the Beans: Pour the beans into the colander and pick them over, discarding any that are defective and any pieces of stone or earth. Rinse
them well under running water, and transfer them to the kettle. Measure in
the broth or water, and add the onion and garlic. Make a slit down the side
of each chipotle chile, and scrape out the seeds, touching them as little as possible to avoid irritating your fingers. Add one of the chiles to the beans
and set the other two aside. Add the 2 teaspoons of sauce from the chile
can, and the branch of epazote, and bring the beans to the simmer.
Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are thoroughly tender – about 2 hours – and taste carefully to be sure they are properly cooked. You may need to add a little broth or water during cooking, to keep the beans submerged at all times.
Preparing the Bean Purée:
When done, ladle out batches of beans and
their cooking liquid and drop into the processor or blender. (If using a
blender, cover the top loosely; otherwise the beans, expanding as they
become puréed, could blow the top off the container.) Purée the beans
and their liquid and pour into the 12-inch skillet. Stir in enough broth or
water (it may take an extra cup or so) to bring the bean sauce to the consistency of a thin cream soup. Season with salt.
Frying the Tortillas:
Heat the oil in the deep-fat-frying pan or second
skillet to 375 degrees F and plan to fry the tortillas strips in four or five batches. Each batch will take about a minute to crisp, and most of the bubbling will have subsided when they are browned and ready. Bring
the oil temperature back to 375 degrees F before each new batch goes
in. Drain on paper towels.
Preparing the Chilaquiles:
Fold the tortilla strips into the bean sauce
and bring to the simmer over moderate heat. Add the reserved second
chile, another spoonful or two of sauce from the can, and the epazote
leaves. Stir gently every half minute or so for 2 or 3 minutes until the
tortillas have softened but are not falling apart; they will have absorbed
a good amount of the sauce.
Scoop the chilaquiles onto the warm serving platter. Drizzle
with crème fraîche or [sour] cream, and sprinkle with cheese and the
remaining chile sliced into strips. Dot with avocado and serve.

Lagniappe! Rick Bayless's Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

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