Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Taco Cravings

Many of you know that I could eat two things all day, every day: Tacos and Sushi. We found a decent Mexican Restaurant out here, but nothing really comes close to El Matador. Last night, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own version of the Mexican food I know and love. While you probably won't see this on the menu of Las Brisas anytime soon, Ron and I liked it a lot and I wanted to share with all of you. This is a great dish for potlucks or large families. If you try this at home, please be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Kelly's Wannabe Chicken Taco Casserole

Small bag of Pinto Beans
White onion
Celery & celery hearts
Small can of green chilies
Cheese (Cheddar and or Jack)
Corn tortillas
1lb (more or less) of Chicken thighs
Box of Mexican Rice, Chicken flavor (I used Arroyo Brand) (or your own Mexican Rice recipe)
Packet of McCormick Taco seasoning (or your own taco seasoning recipe)
1 small can of tomato paste

Soak the beans overnight (or follow quick soak instructions on the bag)
Drain and rinse the beans
Put the beans in a large pot and fill it most of the way with water.
Add about 2Tbs of fresh chopped white onion, salt, 1Tbs (more or less) of minced garlic and celery with the hearts and leaves.
Cook for an hour to 1 1/2 hours.
When beans are soft, drain them and transfer to a large skillet. Add a small amount of oil and simmer while stirring and mashing.
Once the beans are pasty, add about a cup of cheese and stir on low heat until smooth.
Add more oil or milk if needed.
Set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and heat on high until boiling.
Add chicken thighs, celery and hearts, garlic, salt and pepper and some onion.
Boil until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Set aside until cool (you may drain the chicken if you're in a hurry but it retains the most moisture if cooled in the pot)
Once the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bone and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil.
Fry several small tortillas until the edges are crispy.
Line the bottom of a large casserole pan with half the tortillas. (Breaking or tearing the tortillas into bite-sized pieces makes for easier serving)
Set the other half aside.

Cook your rice according to the directions on the box (or as your homemade recipe instructs).

In a large skillet, heat a small amount of oil and add minced garlic. (be sure not to get the oil too hot or it will spatter when the garlic is added and you do not want to clean up that mess)
Add about 2Tbs of chopped white onion
Add the small can of tomato paste
Add 1/3 cup of water
Add green chilies
Add the Taco Seasoning
Add the chicken
Simmer while you prepare the rest of the casserole or for about 10 minutes

Scoop your beans into an even layer on top of the tortillas in the pan.
Top the beans with the Mexican Rice and press firmly
Add the chicken and mixture on top of the rice
Top the chicken with the other half of the fried tortillas (again, tearing them into pieces aids in serving)
Top with a layer of cheese

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes and then broil until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Serve and top each individual dish with avocado slices and sour cream.

This recipe can be altered to include less fat and calories by using low-fat cheese, fat free sour cream and only lightly frying the tortillas in Pam or other fat free cooking spray. You can also add a layer of veggies to add healthy kick. I recommend bell peppers and zucchini.

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