Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Southwest Egg Rolls

We’ve only eaten at Chili’s a few times, but each time we’ve gone, we’ve ordered the Southwest Egg Rolls from their appetizer menu. They have the perfect combination of heat and spice and gooey warmth and flavor. Our local brewery/ restaurant also has Cajun Egg Rolls, which of course aren’t the same thing but somehow seem pretty similar in execution. I saved a recipe ages ago, hoping to make them myself, and then never did anything with it. Recently, I was reorganizing my saved recipes on allrecipes.com and found it again.


I needed to make it.

You don’t understand. Looking at the recipe set into action a craving that only intensified with time. I tried to ignore it, but it just kept coming back. So, I finally put together a grocery list and headed to the store. Most things were easy to find (i.e. green onions, black beans, cheese, spinach, frozen corn). The egg roll wrappers were another story. I got to know the Asian aisle intimately and can now tell you exactly where to find lo mein noodles and peanut sauce and those strange clear noodles that my college roommate loved to make Pad Thai with. No luck finding the egg roll wrappers. I finally gave up and went through the checkout line, thinking about whether I could possibly pull this off with tortillas, when the cashier cheerfully asked, “Did you find everything today?” I smiled and used my charm, and a few minutes later, someone had  wrangled me a package of egg roll wrappers. Apparently they were in the produce section. Good to know.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t my charm. It may have been that I asked them to find me some, and there were clearly 3 guys hanging around with nothing to do, so they had to oblige. Either way.

Time to get started. First, start off with a quarter cup of chopped green onions. I used my kitchen shears. Puppy found the snipping noise very fascinating.


Plop them in a quarter cup of olive oil and sauté them until tender.


Measure out a cup of frozen corn and drain a can of black beans.



You’ll also need some lime juice, cumin, and salt.



Okay, back to the stove. The green onions are getting tender and soft, so go ahead and add a lot of fresh baby spinach.


I let it wilt a little before I added anything else.


Go ahead and add your corn, black beans, and lime juice.


And salt and cumin.


I believe that I also added a shake of cayenne pepper, to give it a kick. Let it cook and simmer until everything’s cooked pretty well. The beans need to be tender, so don’t be anxious and call it done when it starts looking wilted. Just be patient.


In the meantime, explore the phenomenon of egg roll wrappers.

There were about 5,000 in this one package. Or maybe more like 30. Definitely plenty for this meal and for a few more meals. I’m glad the grocery store guy didn’t bring me more than one package.


And they were super thin. Took this picture with my hand to give you a size comparison.


Maybe everyone isn’t as perplexed and fascinated by this as I am. Moving on.

Remove the mixture from heat and stir in a bunch of Monterey Jack cheese.


It’ll melt on its own pretty quickly. Nice and gooey and creamy.


Now for the fun part. There was an illustration on the egg roll wrappers wrapper that demonstrated how to do this, so I’m actually fairly confident that I did this part correctly.

Step 1: Plop a quarter cup of the mixture in the center of the egg roll wrapper.


Position it like a diamond, by the way, not a square.


Step 2: Fold up the bottom corner.


Step 3: Fold in the sides.


Step 4: Moisten the top corner so that it will seal, and roll the whole thing up. I had a little dish of water next to me, so I could dip my fingers in it.

Here are my egg rolls, ready to go! The recipe said it made 8, but I ended up with 10.


I found the egg roll wrappers surprisingly easy to work with. They didn’t tear easily, and they had a little stretchiness to them that allowed me to actually seal up the food pretty tightly and feel like they turned out the way they were supposed to. I like.

Now for the part that I found most intimidating. I’ve never fried anything in oil before. However, hubby not only grew up in the south, but he also worked at Popeye’s as a teenager. He stepped in to help out at this point.

Anyway, here’s a deep skillet filled with vegetable oil.


We waited until it was hot before adding our egg rolls, 5 at a time.


For some reason, every picture I took that included the tongs ended up blurry, but I still feel the need to show you how we turned and rotated the egg rolls. So here’s the least-blurry tongs picture.


When they were golden brown, I pulled them out and set them on paper towels to cool and drain.


For a dipping sauce, I mixed together some ranch dressing (full fat, of course, can’t try to be healthy at this point) with some of my homemade salsa. I cut the egg rolls diagonally like they do at Chili’s. I wish I had taken more pictures of a single egg roll, but this does give you an idea of what they were like.


Heh. The word “diagonally” evokes a mental image of a confused, sooty Harry Potter stepping out into Diagon Alley.

Moving on…

These. were. amazing.

I was worried that the seasonings would be lacking and they’d be bland, but that lime juice and cumin work together with the cheese, and oh, it was good. Spicy but muted, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Warm and satisfying.

Highly recommended. Here's the link to the recipe. I didn’t make modifications, except for the addition of cayenne pepper, so it’s pretty much good to go.

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