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Feed Me Tequila and Tell Me I’m Pretty

Comfort food is comforting no matter where you are.

During our year-long trip around the world, we sampled local cuisine whenever possible. Whether it was pig’s brain gravy in the Philippines, homemade fruit vodka in Antarctica, or spicy chicken feet in South Korea, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything I won’t try.

But when you’re traveling for 12 straight months, sometimes you just need comfort food, regardless of where you are at the time. While that’s often Chinese cuisine for us, Mexican food is a photo-finish second.

And that’s what we tracked down after a long, hot day of exploring Lima, Peru, on foot.

Frida Cocina de México is a beautiful restaurant in downtown Lima inspired by the legendary Mexican artist. If you don’t think of fine dining when you think of Mexican cuisine, this restaurant will quickly change your mind.

One of our travel tricks is to visit high-end restaurants for lunch instead of dinner. You get to enjoy the same delicious food served in more reasonably-sized portions and at a lower price point. Better still is visiting between lunch and dinner service if the restaurant doesn’t close in the afternoons. We were the only guests when we arrived at Frida, and it was lovely. Quiet, laid-back, and delicious.

Once we were seated, I immediately ordered their Paloma cocktail, featuring silver tequila, freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, and bubbly soda water. It might have been mid-afternoon, but when you’re traveling, every hour is happy hour.

Because I was seeking comfort food, I had the Enchiladas Suizas with smoked chicken, house-made corn tortillas, and Gouda queso fundido, or melted cheese.

Rather than being a person’s name, “suizas” means Swiss in Spanish, and it refers to the country of origin for the dish’s rich sauce made of cheese and cream. Combine that with tangy tomatillo salsa, and I was beyond comforted. I told Mike that I could practically drink it with a spoon.

I kept thinking of that dish as we continued our travels through South America, and I realized that I really did want to scoop it up … on a crispy, salty tortilla chip, to be specific.

This week’s featured dish is my interpretation of Frida’s Enchiladas Suizas that are transformed into the craveable dip of my daydreams.

You could offer small ramekins of it with crudités as a cocktail snack, serve individual soufflé dishes of it with steamed white corn tortillas as an entrée, or just make one big pan of it, grab a bag of tortilla chips, and not even pretend to share.

This week’s subscriber exclusives: Host your own fiesta by adding addictive Avocado Crema and fresh Paloma Caliente cocktails to the menu. Subscribers to Around the World in 80 Plates have access to both of these easy, crowd-pleasing recipes!

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas Dip You can roast, broil, or grill your chicken for this recipe, or you can give yourself a head-start by purchasing a precooked rotisserie chicken from the deli. If you’re in a really big hurry, you can skip making the tomatillo salsa from scratch and swap it for bottled salsa verde. And if you can’t find Mexican crema, substitute an equal amount of nonfat Greek yogurt for a similar texture and flavor.

8–10 tomatillos; husked, rinsed, and quartered
1–2 jalapeños, stemmed and diced (remove seeds for a milder flavor)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1/2 cup (75 g) white onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (8 g) cilantro, lightly packed, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cup (183 g) Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup (178 ml) Mexican crema
2 cups (296 g) shredded chicken
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the tomatillos and jalapeños in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and drain; set aside.

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, purée the tomatillos, jalapeño, onion, and garlic for 10 seconds. Add 1/2 cup cilantro and the lime juice and purée for another 20 seconds or until well blended. Season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese and all of the Mexican crema. Season with salt to taste.

In a 9" x 9" glass baking dish, layer half of the chicken, half of the tomatillo salsa, and half of the cheese and crema mixture, followed by the remaining chicken, the remaining tomatillo salsa, and the rest of the cheese and crema mixture. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with tortilla chips or steamed white corn tortillas. Makes 8–10 servings.

For $5 a month or $50 a year, you can get an additional weekly issue of Around the World in 80 Plates that includes bonus recipes not available to the public. This week’s recipes for subscribers only:

  • Paloma caliente: Take advantage of citrus season with this fresh grapefruit cocktail. If you like, you can spice things up with a peppery kick!
  • Avocado crema: This silky-smooth spread is delicious as a dip with tortilla chips and also makes a tasty addition to veggie sandwiches, BLTs, and breakfast toast with fresh tomato slices.

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Food and folklore from my travels to over 100 countries.

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