Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This morning my local weather forecaster assured me that the temperature in Minnesota would “climb up into the single digits.” I held back my tears (or perhaps they just froze in my eyes), and thought about the trip to Mexico I would not be taking with Handsome Greg this year.

I told Greg that I’d go to Mexico (and read paperbacks on the shimmering beach while drinking cocktails) if, and only if, my little theater group did not win a spot in this year’s Fringe Fest.

The Fringe lottery was earlier this week, and Blue Umbrella Productions won a coveted spot in the United States’ largest non-juried Fringe Festival. We’ll be presenting an original revue of TV theme songs, and I will not be going to Mexico.

I won’t wade in the ocean, and I won’t follow the dolphins of Stone Island, and I won’t visit the art galleries along the cobblestone roads of Old Mazatlan.

So, uh, come on out to the MN Fringe Fest this summer and see a super fun musical revue of TV theme songs. Believe it or not, I’m walking on air.

And in the meantime, I’m enjoying some not-even-a-little-bit-authentic, Mexican-inspired food. I considered making pretty, rolled enchiladas, but ultimately gave in to my hotdish-loving Minnesota nature, and made an enchilada casserole. It’s delicious and hearty – a perfect one-dish meal – with just a bit of heat.

Next time I make it, I’ll use smaller, taco-sized tortillas; it was a little too “bread-y” with the medium-sized tortillas I picked up.

Recipe below the fold

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (4 chicken thighs)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon coriander
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can refried beans (I used half a can of beans, plus 1 cup of steamed, pureed vegetables)
9 small flour tortillas
2 10-oz cans enchilada sauce
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomato

Preheat the oven to 375.

Warm the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until the onion is soft but not brown. Stir in the chicken, seasonings, beans, and 1/3 cup enchilada sauce.

Coat the bottom of a 13×9-inch pan with ¼ cup of enchilada sauce. Place two tortillas on the bottom and cut a third tortilla in half to fill in the gaps. Spread about half of the refried bean mixture on top of the tortillas, then 2/3 cup enchilada sauce, and 1/3 of the cheese.

Repeat the layers.

Top with three more tortillas, the remaining enchilada sauce, and the last of the cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese in the middle is well melted. Remove the foil and cook for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and chopped cilantro.

Linked to: This Week’s Cravings, Crumbs and Chaos, Gooseberry Patch

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