Friday, May 6, 2011

Good Enough to Eat: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

These guys would like you to enjoy your Casserole. 
As yesterday was Cinco de Mayo (or Cinco de Drinko as I used to know it in my younger days) I thought I'd throw out a little mexican food for you guys.

This recipe came about after searching for ways to use the leftovers from making a roast chicken from Tara Firma Farms, our CSA. I figured, if I was going to spend a bazillion dollars on a gorgeous, organic, free-range, farm raised chicken? The HELL if any of that damn thing was going to waste.

I normally roast the chicken to a golden perfection (boy was THAT trial and error... there were some raw and overcooked chickens in this house, let me tell you) and then whatever we don't eat, I shred to make this casserole. It's SO good and it makes a huge amount of food and really stretches out the life of that chicken.

I know that most of you know how strongly I feel about sustainable, responsible food, so it makes a HUGE difference that I'm able to take this chicken (that had a sublimely happy life at the farm) and stretch it to make a few different meals. Once I'm done taking all of the meat off, I even use the darn thing to make chicken stock... which is easy and makes a delicious base for soups.

But I digress.

This casserole really was a search though. I had made a few enchilada casseroles and they just weren't quite right for what we wanted. This one balances the savory shredded chicken with a creamy, slightly spicy sauce and has added heft with some thick chewy handmade corn tortillas. Top it all off with cheese and you've got some DAMN good eating. Now contrast all of that yummy cheesy goodness with a Skinny Girl Margarita (have you TRIED them? So good) and you are all set for your mexican feast on Cinco de Drinko, or whatever day you want.



1 16 ounce container of sour cream - I use the light version. I find that you can lighten up the sour cream without sacrificing any of the taste of the casserole... and really, it just makes it a little bit better for you and your family. 

1 16 ounce jar of salsa

1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup - Again, use the healthy version of this. You don't notice it in the dish and it helps to cut out some saturated fat. Which you can replace with MORE CHEESE!!! 

1/4 diced onion

1 8 ounce can of chili beans, drained

6 (12 inch) corn tortillas. cut into thick strips - So these are a local thing that I think we can get only in the bay area, but look for La Tortilla Factory, hand made corn tortillas. They are super thick and chewy and add considerable weight to this dish. If you don't live where they sell them, just try to get a thick corn tortilla. The thicker the tortilla is, the more it will maintain it's integrity in the casserole. It's a LOT better if the tortilla doesn't melt into the dish, as it will get kind of mushy if it does. 

4-6 cups of shredded chicken - This always depends on how much chicken we ate off of our bird the night before.  If you don't have the time to roast your own, get a rotisserie chicken from the store. But if you can, think local and get one from your neighborhood farm or CSA!!! 

4 cups of shredded cheese - To my cousin who is complaining about cholesterol... yes, it's a lot of cheese, but it  makes a LOT of casserole. Wrap it up and serve it to the new neighbors after you're finished with it and let the leftover cholesterol be their problem. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, salsa, cream of chicken soup, onions and chili beans. Layer the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with 1.3 of the tortilla strips. Top with 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the sour cream mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layering the remaining ingredients, making sure to end with the cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let it stand for about 10 minutes to set up while you pour yourself a margarita or a cerveza, then go for it.



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