Enchilada Casserole

I think it may be time for another dinner idea!  Today I’m thinking something with a Mexican twist.  I’m sure most of you have had enchiladas and usually they come from a little box you buy at the store (or the sauce comes from a bottle).  It is time to take back the enchilada… make it your own!  Now don’t worry, we’ll make it easy, in fact, we’ll turn it into a casserole!  I can’t take full credit for the recipe, as the idea is based on Alton Brown’s Enchilada Lasagna, but this does have some pretty nice changes.  So, let’s begin!

Name: Enchilada Casserole

Viva la Enchilada!

Viva la Enchilada!

Ingredient Breakdown:

First, the Sauce…

  • 2 dried Chipotle Chiles, stems and seeds removed, diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Cocoa Powder
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth/Stock
  • 1 1/2 c Tomato Sauce
  • 1 1/2 c Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/2tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Next comes the good stuff… the filling!

  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, diced
  • Dash o’ Salt
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 Sweet Bell Pepper or similar (Cubanelle, Poblano, etc), diced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs fresh Oregano leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 3 c Queso Blanco (orMonterey Jack)
  • 1 can “Refried” Black Beans
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Finally, the extra stuff (all optional, of course):

  • Sour Cream
  • 1 Tomato (I prefer “on the vine” if I can find them), diced
  • Lettuce (I love Frisée for this, but Romaine works great, too), shredded
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Black Pepper

Instructions:

Making the sauce…

  1. Combine the chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chiles are soft and the sauce has reduced to a thick “enchilada sauce” consistancy.
  3. Set aside until ready to use.

When the sauce is done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and begin on the filling.

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute the chicken until cooked through, approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a bowl for temporary holding.
  2. Add the onions and peppers to the same pan along with a generous pinch of salt, decrease the heat to medium-low and sweat for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  3. Add the chicken back to the pan and remove from the heat and stir in about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of your enchilada sauce, making sure the chicken is coated.  Cook for about another 5 – 7 minutes, letting the sauce reduce and thicken.  When done, remove from the heat.

Now we assemble and bake!

  1. Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Place 1/2 cup of your sauce into the bottom of the dish.
  2. Dip 4 tortillas into the remaining sauce and lay them, overlapping slightly, into the bottom of the dish (this should allow it to evenly cover the bottom). Top this with half of the chicken mixture, half of your refried beans (spread evenly) and 1 cup of the cheese.
  3. Get another 4 tortillas and repeat the layers, ending with the last 4 tortillas on top. Pour remaining sauce over the dish and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.

Finally, we plate and eat

  1. Remove from the oven and wait 15 – 20 minutes to cut and serve.
  2. When serving, place down lettuce, put a portion of the casserole on top, followed by sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro and a dash of black pepper.
  3. Eat and enjoy!

I normally get about 8 – 10 servings out of this bad-boy, so if you have a large family, it may only last a day or two, but I make it last the enitre week.  Good, filling, not too pricy and I love it!

As with anything else, you can change ingredients here and there and take this to new places.  Something I tried was adding a bit of Chroizo sausage to one of my last batches… completely different experience.  If you make any changes to what I have, please let me know as I may have to give it a try!

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