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January 10, 2019

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

How many of you still have your New Years resolutions in tact? I'm sure lots of you are working hard to exercise, eat well, cook more, and otherwise improve your life. If you've lost some motivation (or didn't make any resolutions in the first place and just want an easy dinner recipe), don't worry! There is plenty of time to jump back on it, and recipes like this make it easy. It's all the goodness of enchiladas with none of the finicky rolling and assembly, just a big pile of spicy chicken and veggies in a creamy sauce with spiced tortilla chips. All that lean meat, beans, and vegetables with just a sprinkle of cheese makes for a pretty healthy dinner, too.


I normally start this dish by seasoning and searing the chicken. Browning it adds so much flavor, plus it gives you even more flavorful fat to cook the rest of the dish in. If you don't want to get a pan dirty, you do have a few options. You could dice up the raw chicken, toss it with the seasoning blend, and cook the dish for a bit longer in the oven. However, I still like the shredded chicken better, so buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and pulling the meat off of there is one of my favorite shortcuts. You can even use the bones to make a tasty soup to warm you up more with all this cold weather.


One of the perks of searing off the chicken is it gives you an excuse to cook off the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. They'll continue cooking in the oven, but this way they'll soak up those delicious chicken juices, incorporate the yummy browned bits, and mellow out some of the sharpness. The other veggies are canned, so there's no need to cook off the tomatoes, beans, or green chiles. They all get combined with the chicken, some pre-made enchilada sauce, and some sour cream. I'm sure there are ways to make your own enchilada sauce, but the whole point of this dish is to make a quick and easy meal. Using a can of sauce cuts down on time and saves you the hassle of buying tons of other ingredients.


I also take the time to make my own tortilla strips. I bake them to save on time and calories and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and chili powder. The best shortcut here is to go ahead and buy some tortilla chips instead (and use up the rest with some homemade guac). They just get sprinkled in between layers of the chicken mixture, then it all gets covered in cheese and baked until golden, hot, and bubbly. I throw more tortilla strips on top for crunch since the ones inside tend to soak up all the juices from the casserole (it's a good thing, trust me). It's great to feed your whole family for dinner, eat as leftovers for lunch, and/or freeze for another night when you're tempted to break your resolutions.


8 Corn Tortillas
3 T Oil
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Minced (Optional)
1 10oz Can Red Enchilada Sauce
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, Drained
1 4.5oz Can Diced Green Chiles
1 14oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, etc.)

Heat oven to 450F and line a large baking tray with parchment.

Cut the tortillas in half and then in strips. Combine the oil, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Toss the tortilla strips in the oil and spread onto the prepared pan. Bake for 4-6 minutes or until golden and crispy, tossing occasionally.

Lower oven temperature to 375F and grease a 9x13" baking dish.

Combine the cumin, cayenne, remaining 1/2 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Pound the chicken to 1/2" thick if not thin enough already, then season generously with the spice mixture.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear the chicken until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool, then dice or shred.

Cook the onion in the remaining fat over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeƱo, if using, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.

Combine the chicken, onions, enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes, green chiles, black beans, and sour cream. Spread half the chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the tortilla strips, then cover with the remaining chicken mixture. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 12 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with the remaining tortilla strips.

Serves 6-8
Recipe Adapted from Anna Stockwell