Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Tomatillo Sauce

Ahhh Tex-Mex. Another grand love of mine. Enchiladas are something I've been eating since I was a child. For some reason, whenever I go to Tex-Mex restaurants I always order the vegetarian enchiladas. Never the vegetarian quesadillas, never the vegetarian fajitas (ok, maybe once or twice), never the vegetarian tacos, not even the margaritas (Whoa! Took it too far there), always the vegetarian enchiladas. Most restaurants usually make them with spinach, but sometimes they add some mushrooms in there and I've even had them with zucchini and carrots! The sauces always vary (tomatillo, suiza, ranchero), the tortillas always vary (white, wheat, corn) and the cheeses always vary (chihuahua, queso fresco, cheddar) but I always love me some enchiladas. Now you may be thinking, the only reason you like enchiladas is because you don't know good Tex-Mex. You would be wrong, my friend. I live in Texas. I've had my fair share of some good Tex-Mex. Down here, we don't call it cheese sauce, it's queso. (Not that I ever partake in it, not a fan.) So I know good Tex-Mex. (But I could probably use a little more schooling on interior Mexican food. Rick Bayless, when are you going to start a cooking show?)

It was only a matter of time before I made enchiladas at home. When Hubby and I first got married and my cooking was limited I often used canned enchilada sauce with pre-cooked chicken when making the dish.  Oh how far I've come! I decided one day that I wanted to make my own enchilada sauce from scratch. I mean, how hard could it be? I've always noticed how cheap tomatillos are at H-E-B, so I thought I'd give a try at making tomatillo sauce. It's actually my favorite sauce of them all, so it was a bonus for me!

I came across the enchilada casserole recipe one day when I was looking up chicken recipes for Hubby. I decided to can the canned sauce for a fresh tomatillo sauce. (Another recipe I found on the Internet.) The results were superb. And this sauce is amazing! I usually eat this dish and pick the chicken to the side and save them for Hubby.  (I make pretty big pieces for this purpose.) Seriously, this is such, such a good dish! I make it pretty often. Hubby and Bambino both eat it and I kick the chicken to the side and inhale the veggies, black beans, tortillas and everything else in this smorgasbord of a dish. Oh yeah, it has vegetables too so it's another one stop shop meal, which I love!

Click here for the original tomatillo sauce recipe.

Click here for original enchilada casserole recipe.

Tomatillo Sauce
6 tomatillos husked and rinsed (or 1 can tomatillos)
6 sprigs cilantro
1 jalapeno (optional)
1/2 small white onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

1. If using fresh tomatillos, boil in salted water that just covers the tomatillos. Should take about 10 minutes. (Reserve water after boiled!)

2. Place tomatillos, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and salt in food processor and pulse until blended.

3. Place in bowl. Add 1/4 cup water. (If using fresh tomatillos, take water from which you boiled the tomatillos.) Let sit 30 minutes before using.

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
2 chicken breasts cut into pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (More or less depending on your tolerance for heat)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked black beans (Or 1 - 15 oz can)
1 ear of corn with kernels chopped off
1 green pepper, chopped
8 corn tortillas
Shredded Mexican blended cheese (I use 2% milk cheese, use what you prefer)
4 oz of sour cream (I use light, use what you prefer)

1. Marinade chicken with garlic, cumin, coriander and chili powder. Preferably over night.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in chicken and 1 tablespoon of the tomatillo sauce. Saute until browned on all sides.

3. Add black beans, corn and green pepper.  Add 1/4 cup of the tomatillo sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower to medium low and let cook until chicken and vegetables are cooked through, stirring occasionally.

4. While mixture is simmering, take 8 corn tortillas and lightly brush each side with olive oil. Take out another skillet and spray with PAM and set heat to medium high. Warm each tortilla on both sides until it bubbles up a bit and browns.

5. Grease a baking dish with PAM. Spread half of what is left of tomatillo sauce on bottom of pan. Place four tortillas, it's ok if they are overlapping. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over tortillas. Spoon and spread the 4 oz of sour cream and sprinkle with cheese. Spoon 1/2 of what is left of the tomatillo sauce over the cheese. Layer again with tortillas. Then place what is left of the chicken mixture on top. Spread what is left of the tomatillo sauce over the chicken. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in oven.

6. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and sprinkle with cheese. Place back in oven and cook until cheese is melted, around 5-10 minutes. Cool and serve.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 6
This recipe has multiple steps so it takes some time. If you do decide to use a canned (or jarred) enchilada sauce it will cut down some of your time. If you have tomatillos at your grocery store, I highly recommend you trying this sauce!

For all the vegetarians, you can easily take out the chicken when making this!

I've made this many times before and will continue to make it. It's already in heavy rotation!

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