Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Friday, May 15, 2009

This is a very flavorful, extremely easy meal to prepare that's perfect for a busy weekday. You can make it in advance (even freeze it!) and just bake it off when you're ready for dinner. Add a side of beans or salad and the meal is complete, with very little cleanup!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced (can substitute with green bell also)
3/4 cup white onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
vegetable oil
black pepper
1 tspn ground cumin
1/2 tspn ancho chili powder
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken breast*
1 can enchilada sauce
3 flour tortillas or 9 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded monteray jack cheese
1 roma tomato, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
2 scallions, chopped
1 serrano chili, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced

In a pan, heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add poblano pepper and onion, and saute on medium-high heat until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and continue to cook another 30 seconds or until garlic becomes fragrant, careful not to burn the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

In the mixing bowl, add the cooked chicken, cumin, and chile powder, mixing well. Set aside.

In a glass baking dish (half the size of a normal lasagna sized glass dish), spoon in a couple of tablespoons of the enchilada sauce so the bottom is thinly covered. This will prevent the tortillas from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish. Layer a layer of tortillas, making sure to fit them (if using flour tortillas, then just one is enough; if using corn, then use two whole and cut a third in half to make the shapes all fit a perfect layer in the square shape). Spoon half of the chicken/pepper/onion mixture, and sprinkle some of the cheeses on top. Spoon some enchilada sauce on top, then cover with another layer of tortillas, and repeat. You will end with a tortilla on the top layer. Smother this top layer with enchilada sauce and give a good thick layer of cheese on top of that. Sprinkle the top layer with the chopped tomatoes and green onions (reserving some for garnish).

At this point the enchilada can be frozen for later use.

If baking immediately, place in a 375 degree preheated oven, and bake uncovered, for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbling.

Remove and allow to rest for 2 minutes before cutting (otherwise the cheese will just bubble all over the place).

Garnish with more chopped scallions and serrano chiles to desired spiciness.

*you can buy a whole roasted chicken from the market and use the meat from that, or roast 1 bone-in chicken breast (with skin on) in the oven for about 30 minutes; don't worry if meat isn't completely cooked through, as it will finish cooking in the casserole

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