1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts or
12 ounces leftover chicken meat--shredded
1 can black beans--drained and rinsed
2 medium scallions--sliced
2 medium limes--juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
10 medium flour tortillas
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 chipotle peppers--minced, with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
12 ounces canned diced green chiles
1/2 cup flour
1 cup any kind of milk or
1 cup whipping cream or
3/4 cup 1% milk and 1/4 cup creme fraiche or
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk and 1/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups chicken stock
4 ounces cheddar cheese--shredded
4 ounces Monterey jack cheese--shredded
1. Preheat oven: 400º F. Lightly oil a 13x9x2-inch pan with olive oil.
2. If you're using raw chicken, poach, cool, and shred chicken breast. Combine shredded chicken with the beans, scallions, lime juice, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stack tortillas and cut into quarters.
4. Combine shredded cheeses in a small bowl.
5. Combine chili powder, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, and minced chipotles in a small bowl.
4. Heat olive oil in 5-quart saucepan. Add onion and saute until soft. Add chili powder mixture. Cook about a minute. Add diced chiles. Add flour, mix well, and cook until you don't smell that raw flour smell. Whisk in chicken stock. When there are no lumps of flour, add the milk or cream or milk & creme fraiche. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened.
5. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into the bottom of the casserole. Then layer the ingredients as follows:
- Layer 1: 1/3 of the tortilla pieces; 1/2 of the chicken; 1/3 of the cheese; 1/3 of the sauce
- Layer 2: 1/3 of the tortilla pieces; 1/2 of the chicken; 1/3 of the cheese; 1/3 of the sauce
- Layer 3: 1/3 of the tortilla pieces; 1/3 of the sauce; 1/3 of the cheese
1. This is best with fresh cilantro, but if all you have is dried, use 1 tablespoon. If you don't like cilantro, leave it out.
2. Chipotles are dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. You can buy them in cans with adobo sauce. I chop one pepper extremely fine and add 1 tsp. adobo sauce. You can adjust it for your personal taste.
3. I use whole wheat tortillas in this recipe, but you can use regular flour tortillas. I haven't tried using corn tortillas. They might be good, too. If anyone tries corn tortillas, let me know how it worked for you.
4. Diced chiles come in 4-ounce and 7-ounce cans. I buy either 3 small ones or 2 large ones, whichever is cheaper. They're not spicy enough to make a difference, so I just toss in the extra 2 ounces when I use large cans.
5. If you're using raw chicken, poach and cool it before you preheat the oven and make the rest of the recipe.
6. The sauce--there will be lumps from the onions, so don't look for a perfectly smooth sauce. What you're aiming for is to have no dry flour left before you add the dairy because the flour blends more easily into the stock than into milk.
7. The Dairy: This recipe works with any combination of milk/cream. The difference is that it's richer with whipping cream than with nonfat milk. If you can find or make creme fraiche, the 1% milk/creme fraiche blend makes a sauce as rich as using all whipping cream, but with 1/4 the fat. The evaporated skim milk blend is almost as good as the creme fraiche option.
8. Making your own creme fraiche costs about half what it costs to buy it, but requires that you plan ahead. Here's how: Take 1 cup whipping cream and mix in 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Make sure the buttermilk has active cultures. It should say so on the carton. A glass jar is a good container, but any nonreactive bowl will work. Cover it and let it sit on the kitchen counter until thickened. This usually takes 24-48 hours. It's done when it's a bit thinner than sour cream. It also will be slightly sour, but not as much as sour cream. Then refrigerate. The food safety folks, who are overly conservative, IMO, say it keeps for about three days. I've kept mine for as long as two weeks without any problems. You can tell when it needs to be thrown out because it gets moldy. Or it gets yellow and thick, which means it's soured beyond being edible.
I love to use this stuff in a mixture with 1% milk in cream sauces, custards and quiches, cream soups, etc. It gives that texture you miss when you substitute milk for cream without as much fat. I use a 3:1 ratio when substituting. Then adjust it the next time I make it, if I need to.
9. The other low-fat alternative: You can substitute plain, nonfat or lowfat yogurt for the milk. I don't like to because it curdles so easily. What you have to do is bring the yogurt to room temperature. Then temper it by putting some of the hot sauce into the yogurt and warming it up before you put it in the sauce. Cook it on very low heat until the sauce is thickened. Use a lower oven temperature--no more than 350º F. Check after 30 minutes and then check every ten minutes until it's done. I'm not sure of the exact time because I haven't done it this way for years. The trick is to catch it as close as you can to when the cheese melts and not let it cook too long. I think that's a pain, so I go with the slightly higher fat variations mentioneded above.
10. You can do everything in advance and just pop it in the oven before you serve it. It will take about 45 minutes from the refrigerator and maybe 30 minutes if you let it sit out for an hour before you put it in the oven. Those are approximate times. Every oven is a bit different, so you have to adjust the time to how your oven works.
© 2000 by Linda Sprinkle