Monday, May 20, 2013

Joey's Better Chicken Tortilla Lasagna

I was recently in a creative mood and was still feeling the Cinco De Mayo vibe, so I thought I'd come up with a new casserole. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get a recipe right, but I think this one was pretty amazing, right from the first go. Claire said it's her new favorite, and Chris had absolutely no problem taking half of the casserole home with him that night. They loved it! The beauty of it is that you can tweak it to make it as spicy or as mild as you like, and it'll always turn out. It's warm and comforting without being too heavy. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Ok, cut to 4 months after the original post when I decided to make it again for my friend Michele. As much as I loved it the first time, I decided to see if I could make it even better. I thought maybe I could pump up the flavor, maybe add a little more heat, just for a little slow burn. So I added a few spices, some chopped chillies, and some garlic and onions. All of these things made it more flavorful, but the biggest aha moment came when I added a cup of red wine. BOOM! That was the answer! It was ABSOLUTELY exactly what I was looking for. And the spices mellowed out so I finally got my slow burn instead of being smacked in the face. It was even better the next day. So here's the updated BETTER recipe.
Michele loved it, and I think you will too!

a few glugs oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs taco seasoning
1 tbs sugar
 a few shakes crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 29 oz can tomato puree
2 cups salsa (I like Tostitos or Pace)
2 cans chopped green chilies
1 tbs chopped jalapenos
1 cup dry red wine
1 rotisserie chicken
4 large burrito size flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Add a few glugs of oil to a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften. Add garlic and spices. Add the puree, salsa, chilies, jalapenos, and wine. Give it a good stir. Let it simmer for a while, even up to an hour or two.
Meanwhile, pull all the chicken off the bones, and shred it into small pieces, discarding any fat or skin. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
Cut 2 flour tortillas in half across the center point, making two semicircles. Place the semicircles in the pan so that the flat edges are against the side of the pan, and the rounded edges are in the center. Cut them to fit, if you need to. Now place half of the chicken in one even layer, then cover with half of the sauce and then half of the cheeses. Repeat each layer again.
Place it in the oven and bake it until the cheese is bubbly and everything is heated through, about 30 minutes. Let it sit for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or a drizzle of taco sauce.

Make it as spicy as you like! Add more jalapenos, add Tabasco, add HOT salsa to the sauce. You can also add some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a smokier hit. You can even substitute browned ground beef instead of chicken, if you like. Boom.

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