“The Mask of Zorro” is a film that never really gets its due.
It’s never disparaged or looked down on, but it’s never really mentioned much, which is a shame because it’s one of the most flat-out entertaining action/adventure movies of its sort of the last couple decades, if not longer. Maybe it’s because the sequel, “The Legend of Zorro” was such a stinker.
Regardless, this is just a great movie, one that plays to convention but never gets bogged down by it. There are plenty of tropes and beats in it that are in pretty much standard superhero or comic book movie these days, and yet it nev er feels trapped by its structure. Part of this is because we actually get two Zorro adventures for the price of one. The opening prologue with Diego de la Vega’s (Anthony Hopkins) final ride as Zorro is a perfect little “mini movie” in and of itself that encapsulates everything great about the character, before delving into the origin/revenge plotline that drives the bulk of the story.
But thankfully, once Antonio Banderas’ character takes front and center, it’s still a character-driven story, augmented by a great sense of growth both in skill and attitude. It’s just well-written, well-acted stuff that happens to also have some exceptionally well-choreographed sword fights and chase scenes.
Is it an all-time classic? Not really. But it gets a lot right, and in a way better than most films of its kind these days do.
BEEF & CHEESE ENCHILADAS
1 pound lean ground beef (93/7)
1 package flour tortillas (10 or 12 count)
2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese
1 tablespoon each of sweet paprika, ground cumin and powdered cheddar cheese (look near the popcorn if not in the spice aisle)
1 teaspoon each of chili powder, black pepper and cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock (prefer Kitchen Basics)
Brown the ground beef, drain excess fat and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine all of the spices and seasonings, including the cornstarch. Stir to combine. In a saucepot, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft. Pour in the tomato sauce and stir in the spice mix. Stir until spices are completely incorporated. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside to cool before assembling enchiladas. Stir a cup of sauce into the ground beef. Add a cup of sauce to the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish. To assemble, hold flat a tortilla.
Using a tablespoon, spread meat down the middle of the tortilla, add a generous sprinkle of cheese and a spoonful of sauce. Roll tightly and place seam side down in a baking dish. Continue until you run out of meat or tortillas. Should make 10 to 12 enchiladas. Spoon another cup of sauce, or more, over the top of the enchiladas.
Sprinkle with about a cup of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and let bake for a few more minutes uncovered.
Serve immediately. Can be made night before and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake. If freezing, do not bake, cover tightly. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bake covered for about an hour at 325 degrees or until warmed through and sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Check for doneness and bake for longer if necessary.
— Christine Gardner, Food Editor