Chicken Tortilla Casserole

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 to 16 servings
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups rice

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups diced tomatoes (5 to 7 tomatoes, depending on size) 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1 large onion, diced 

4 teaspoons chili powder 

2 teaspoons paprika 

2 teaspoons cumin 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 

One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 

One 16-ounce jar salsa verde 

12 to 18 flour tortillas (or corn tortillas), depending on size 

One 11-ounce can corn, drained 

1 1/2 pounds grated Cheddar jack cheese 

1 recipe Enchilada Sauce, recipe follows, or 2 cups store-bought red enchilada sauce

Sour cream, for serving 

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving 

Enchilada Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers

1/4 cup finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 beef, chicken or tomato bouillon cube

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken stock

One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Cook the rice according to the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and add the tomatoes, garlic and onions. Stir and cook for a minute or 2. Add 2 teaspoons of the chili powder, 1 teaspoon of the paprika and 1 teaspoon of the cumin. Stir and cook the mixture for another minute or 2 in order to release the flavors. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken along with the remaining 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin and some salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is deep golden brown and done in the middle, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water and stir to make a sauce. Allow the sauce to boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pinto and kidney beans and set aside.
  5. To assemble, pour half of the jar of salsa verde (about a cup) in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or disposable foil baking pan. Layer half of the tortillas on top of the salsa verde, overlapping the edges. Spoon the rice over the tortillas, spread the tomato mixture over the rice then sprinkle the corn over the tomatoes. Next, add the chicken and bean mixture, then sprinkle on half the cheese and pour over half the Enchilada Sauce. Next, add the remaining tortillas in a layer, pour on the rest of the salsa verde and Enchilada Sauce and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. 
  6. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the casserole to sit for a few minutes before serving up to ensure it holds together. Serve with sour cream and cilantro for topping.

Enchilada Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers, onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, bouillon cube and some salt and pepper and cook until the spices darken and their flavors are released, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, stir to combine and cook it for another minute. Add the stock and stir to combine, then allow the liquid to thicken. Add the tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is nice and thick and reduced by about a third, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Allow the sauce to cool slightly, then use an immersion blender to completely puree the sauce until smooth. (Alternatively, you can transfer it to a blender to puree it; just make sure the sauce is cooled, as blending hot liquids is dangerous!)
  3. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and can also be frozen! Just reheat the sauce in a saucepan or skillet for whatever recipe calls for it.

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