January 30, 2012

Enchilada Lasagna

I'll say right off that this was not going to be the meal I wrote about over the weekend (sorry for the Monday post - was internet-less all weekend) but the dish I was so excited to make and try turned out to be a huge flop. I had intended to write about making this, but it turned out terrible.  I have no idea what went wrong, but my meat was tough and the marinade was like getting punched in the face by a drunk orange.  Needless to say I tossed Thursday's dinner and settled for a Ramen stir-fry.  My ego was bruised still the next day so I decided to go with a stand-by with ingredients I had in my pay-day-is-still-4-days-away fridge.  While this isn't a single person meal, it will provide about 5 meals after dinner and is one of those dishes that gets more flavorful the longer it is in the fridge.

I like to call this dish Lasagna, but it really isn't Lasagna.  I (am going to show my culinary ignorance) always thought that Lasagna was the complete dish of layered goodness, but it actually is the long pasta sheets that go in between the layers.  Lasagne is the dish made from Lasagna... at least according to it's Wikipedia page.  I am still going to continue to call this dish Enchilada Lasagna because it is a layered, baked dish with cheese, meat and vegetables.  I'm not sure even if this constitutes a Lasagna but I'm going with it.

On to cooking!  I gather everything I need and get ready to start chopping away.  I already have my chicken in the oven with a healthy layer of seasoning (cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, chili powder, black pepper) on it.  As luck would have it, I still have quite a bit of white rice with green onion left over from the botched dinner so I pull that out of the fridge as well.  It has gone a little soft but that is fine, it will be used as a filler for the main ingredients.  Normally I would be using corn tortillas for the layers, but I have some slightly stale corn taco shells which will be a good replacement.  The staleness will go away as everything cooks together in the oven.

Fast forward about 10 minutes and I'm pulling the chicken out of the oven to shred.  Easiest way to do this is with two forks pulling the chicken apart.  Once shredded the chicken is set aside with the veggies in the layering line-up.  At this point I have everything I need to start building my dinner.

 First comes a layer of broken taco shells, then about 1/2 the rice, next is the veggies and chicken and 1/2 a can of enchilada sauce. Last comes a layer of shredded cheddar cheese.  I repeat those steps and the dish is ready for the oven.  Something seems to be missing... veggies - check, chicken - check, hot peppers - check..... green onions - not check.  I slice up my green onion and top the pan with them and a good shake of crushed red pepper.

I only had one can of enchilada sauce and was a little bit worried that it wouldn't be enough to really get into the taco shells to soften them up so I lowered the oven heat to 350 and sat back to wait.  I had just rented Bridesmaids and was ready to settle in with a rum drink (I had been watching Pirates of the Caribbean) and enjoy some well earned Friday relax time.  The one nice thing about using a glass baking dish is that you can see in the sides and gauge how well your dish is cooking.  It took about 45 minutes for the sauce to penetrate through the layers and soak into the shells.

I let it cool for about 5 minutes before I could't resist anymore.  I dug in and was so happy to have the spatula go in smoothly and it come out of the pan without sticking (I forgot to butter the pan).  I served myself up with a side of refried beans, sour cream and a small handful of shredded taco-style lettuce.  Dinner was wonderful.  It was spicy and filling without the weight of too much sauce or cheese.  I was glad I only had one can of enchilada sauce, another can would have been way too much.  The veggies were still bright and flavorful and the chicken had a nice kick to it.

I will be enjoying this though the week as lunch a couple days and dinner on a night I don't want to make something fancy.  Old stand-bys really do warm you from the inside out. :)

Enchilada Lasagna

1 Chicken breast - shredded (season with cayenne, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder if desired)
1/2 Green bell pepper
1/2 Red bell pepper
1/2 Small yellow onion
1 Small tomato
Veggies filled a cereal bowl, probably was about a cup and a half total.
2 cups Cooked white rice
Corn tortillas/Broken taco shells
Shredded Cheddar cheese/Jack cheese
1 can (10 oz) Red enchilada sauce
Green onion
Crushed red pepper

1. Line a greased baking pan with tortillas and spoon 1/2 the rice on the bottom.  Layer veggies, chicken and cheese on top.
2. Top with cheese and enchilada sauce.
3. Repeat for second layer.
4. Top with extra cheese, chopped green onion and crushed red pepper.
5. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until sauce has penetrated all layers.

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