January 31, 2007

A Happy Shortcut

It was a busy night last week when I set out making one of our favorite meals. Pizza? No, our other favorite. Curry? No, no, the other one! Crêpes? No, okay…our fourth favorite!!! Enchiladas?! Ding Ding Ding!!

It was one of those nights where I really wanted to get done with it! And it occurred to me that my-source-of-all-things-excellent (i.e. Paul’s Mom) made a layered casserole out of the last few tortillas, chicken and onion that are inevitably leftover when making enchiladas. So, why not try it?

It turned out to be much easier and really tasty. If you’re crunched for time, or feel like a little Mexican lasagna, make it this way. In addition to the simple ingredients that usually fill my enchiladas – shredded chicken, red onion, and cheese – I added a layer of sour cream in the middle to add some richness and subdue some of the spiciness of the enchilada sauce. Black olives seemed like the perfect topper! This is a really basic version but you can obviously go crazy with the fillings. Beans, roasted chilis, jalepeno, or cilantro would be wonderful.

I like to serve these spiced up black beans on the side instead of rice or traditional refried beans. Simply sauté about ¼ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup chopped bell pepper in a tsp of olive oil. Sprinkle on a bit of chili powder and ground cinnamon. Stir in 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans, 2 Tbsp salsa and 1 tsp chopped chipotle chili (in adobo), if you like it spicy. Stir until warmed through and serve!

Enchilada Casserole

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cooked and shredded
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, or a mixture of cheddar, monterey jack or other cheese
12 corn tortillas
2 (10-oz) cans red enchilada sauce
½ bottle beer (Negro Modelo or another amber or brown beer)
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup black olives

So, easy enough, right? Stir together the enchilada sauce and beer in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat and set aside.

Pour a ladle full of enchilada sauce in the bottom of square 8x8 baking dish. Place 4 tortillas in approximately one layer in the dish. They will overlap in the middle – that’s okay. Top with half the shredded chicken, half the onion, and 1/3 cup cheese. Ladle more enchilada sauce over this.

Layer 4 more tortillas in the dish. Spread the sour cream over the tortillas. Top with the other half of shredded chicken and onion and 1/3 cup cheese. Ladle more enchilada sauce over the dish and top with the remaining 4 tortillas. Ladle enough enchilada sauce over the entire casserole to evenly cover the tortillas (so there are no dry spots).

Sprinkle the olives and remaining 1/3 cup cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking time. Serve with guacamole or sliced avocado and black beans. Serves 4.

No comments: