Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If there's anything I love, it's good, authentic Mexican food. I grew up in the Bay Area, has all kinds of delicious Mexican cuisine. Seattle has a few good options, for for the most part, places like Azteca just don't cut it.

Enchiladas are a personal weakness of mine, but a bad sauce can ruin it all. I'm definitely a sauce snob - red not green, with enough spice for kick, but not overpower the taste of the filling, salty, not sweet. These are all personal preferences, of course, but they're mine and since this is my blog, I guess that's all that matters... right? Right.

Since I had a ton of Masa left over from making tortillas a few weeks ago, I found this recipe and had to give it a try. The biggest change - making my own enchilada sauce! Canned sauce has a lot of sodium in it, so I hunted down a recipe and made my own... and it was exactly what I would have wanted. If you have the time to prep it the day before to cut down on the cook time, I would definitely recommend doing so. It's worth the extra work.

The Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Casserole (as adapted from Bitchin Camero)
Servings: 4-5

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 Minutes

1 cups masa harina

1/2 cup water
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 chicken breasts
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can hominy or yellow corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 poblano peppers, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, diced
4 cups Enchilada sauce (see below recipe, however for the sake of saving time, can use canned)
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions1. Preheat the oven to 375. Prep enchilada sauce (below) if desired and let simmer while creating and assembling the casserole.

2. Put olive oil, onions and peppers in a pan. Saute approx 6-8 minutes, until onions and peppers are soft. Add tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are cooked through and soft, approx 2 minutes. 
3. Prepare the chicken with a light sprinkling of chili powder, cumin, and other desired spices. Broil 6-8 minutes on each side or until cooked completely. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
4. While the chicken cooks, create the tortilla crust by mixing the Masa, water and salt. Stir together until small crumbs form, adding additional water if the crust seems to dry.
5. Grease a casserole dish (mine was a 9x9 glass pyrex) and pour approx 1-1.5 cups of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan, enough to cover in a thin layer. Begin assembling your casserole by adding rice, onion/pepper/tomato mix, then corn and black beans. For an extra cheesy casserole, add a layer of cheese, then chicken and the remaining sauce. Top the dish with the tortilla crumbs, and a final layer of cheese.
6. Cook for 35 minutes, then set oven to broil and cook until the cheese begins to brown. Remove and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

The Recipe: Enchilada Sauce
Servings: 4-5

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 Minutes

1 can tomato paste

1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 poblano pepper (or, add a 2nd jalapeno)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tblsp chili powder
2.5 tsp cumin
3 tsp sugar
salt to taste
2 cups water
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic

1. Saute peppers and onion for 8-10 mins. Add garlic, spices. Stir until peppers and onions are covered (approx 30 sec).
2. Add tomatoes, paste and 1 cup water. Continue to add water to thin without sacrificing taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer. Taste - will be sweet - add salt to taste.
3. If desired, place in blender and puree until smooth.

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