Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Woops! It’s been a little more than a month since I last posted. How time flies! We’ve been super busy around here. Most of my time has been occupied by studying for a big exam that’s coming up in December. I’m loving being a teaching assistant — I look forward every week to my two hour lecture.  I’m also taking a professionalization course and learning so many things about academia that I was unaware of before. And so much more! (I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had any free time!)

One of the recent highlights was a potluck with Bryan’s colleagues. I love potlucks because they’re a good time to showcase your best recipes. I also like when to see a large diversity of foods from other cultures. We had just the right recipe to fit the bill: Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole! It was perfect because I was able to find fresh Anaheim chile peppers at the grocery store that week, it’s difficult to find Mexican or Southwestern food here, it’s one of our favourite meals, and I was sure it was something that no one else would contribute to the potluck. (We also made Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup for ourselves while I was roasting all those chile peppers).

We had a fantastic evening full of good food and fantastic company! I hope we get an invitation to the next potluck despite that Bryan has now graduated.

I’m happy to report that the dish was well-received! We took one enchilada casserole with us to the potluck and kept one at home. Good thing I made extras, because there weren’t any leftovers to bring home.

Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Changes from the original recipe:

  • The original recipe calls fora package of frozen “Bueno Hot Autumn Roast green chile.”  These chiles aren’t available here and the closet thing I can get is fresh Anaheim peppers.
  • The original recipe calls for wrapping some cheese and chicken in each of the (large size) tortillas. I could only find the small corn tortillas and opted for the casserole style used in Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. Thus, all the cheese went into the sauce instead of reserving some to fill the tortillas.
  • The original recipe calls for a Mexican cheese blend. The blends that I found either have chili or jalapeño peppers in them, which I didn’t want because this dish is spicy enough as is… so I opted to make my own blend using Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  • I doubled the quantities because we wanted lots of leftovers for lunch!

Green Chile and Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter– approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 (slightly rounded) tablespoons flour– approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt– approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 cups whole milk– approximate cost $3.00
  • 7 cups cheese (a blend of medium Cheddar and Monterrey Jack), shredded – approximate cost $9.00
  • 1 onion, chopping– approximate cost $0.75
  • 2.2 kilograms (4.85 pounds) fresh Anaheim (Green) chile peppers – approximate cost $20.00

Method

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
  2. Roast the Anaheim chile peppers.
    1. Arrange the chiles in a roasting pan.
    2. Roast under the broiler for 5 minutes.
    3. Turn the chiles.
    4. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    5. Turn the chiles.
    6. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    7. Turn the chiles.
    8. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    9. Note: The chiles should be blackened on all sides at this point.
    10. Allow the chiles to cool.
  3. Peel the blackened skin off of the chiles.
  4. De-seed the chiles as necessary (more seeds = more heat).
  5. Chop the chiles into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.
  6. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted.
  7. Turn down the heat.
  8. Stir flour and sea salt into the butter.
  9. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  10. Add milk.
  11. Stir until hot, but not boiling (the sauce should be quite thick)!
  12. Add cheese blend.
  13. Stir frequently until melted.
  14. Add the roasted chile pieces.
  15. Remove from heat.

Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $24.00
  • 48 small corn tortillas – approximate cost $1.80
  • Green chile and cheese sauce
  • Cooking oil– approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the chicken.
    1. Bake the chicken breasts until cooked through (about 15 minutes)
    2. Allow the chicken to cool until you can handle it.
    3. Chop the chicken into small, approximately 1/4″ pieces.
    4. Set chicken aside.
  3. Prepare the corn tortillas.
    1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
    2. Very lightly fry the corn tortillas.
    3. Place on paper towels as they come our of the frying pan to remove some of the oil.
  4. Assemble the casserole!
    1. Distribute half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the bottom of 2 9×13 baking dishes (it’s ok if they overlap).
    2. Top with half of the chicken.
    3. Smother with 1/2 of the green chile and cheese sauce.
    4. Distribute the second half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dishes.
    5. Top with remaining chicken.
    6. Cover with remaining green chile and cheese sauce.
      1. Note: Once assembled, you can refrigerate the casserole and bake it at another time.
  5. Bake about 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with beans, rice, and flour tortillas)

Makes about 24 servings, or 2 9×13 casseroles (approximate cost: $2.51 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Tomatoes and Peppers

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker (my fourth month participating)! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last.

So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are tomatoes and peppers.

This month is the first time that I’m not sharing the dish I had initially made for the challenge. Over the weekend, I made a curry-like dish with chicken, peppers, and tomatoes. It was good, but tasted a bit more like Mexican food than Indian food. I was a bit disappointed by this because it didn’t pair very well with naan bread. Also, it was wayyyy too spicy for me! I ate half a bowl. Even Bryan mentioned that it was spicy (his tolerance level is much higher than mine). He was able to finish, but was surprised I made it as far through the meal as I did. Because I was unsatisfied with the results, I haven’t have much inspiration to write about the experience, nor did I want to share the recipe as part of the Improv Challenge (I may share it in a week or so).

Instead, I made a last minute trip to the grocery store on Tuesday while running other errands to pick up more peppers and tomatoes so I could try again. Earlier in the day, I had been reading a blog post series on Chiles at MJ’s Kitchen. The posts were very informative, explaining that “the green chile pepper [is] called by many names – New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch, Big Jim, Rio Grande and Sandia – to name a few” (MJ’s Kitchen). I’d never heard it called California pepper, Big Jim, Rio Grande or Sandia! I was even a bit skeptical that an Anaheim pepper would be the same, though I’ve heard the peppers called by that name before.

Reminiscing about the amazing food in the Southwest US. I wanted green chiles afterwards, but that’s not something that’s regularly sold around here. In fact, the only Hatch Chiles I’ve seen are dried red chiles sold at specialty stores with a fairly high price tag. It’s always good, but not quite the same as green chiles.

Very much to my surprise, there was a large basket of “Anaheim Peppers” at the grocery store this week. I had to have them. The price was also surprisingly reasonable. Here’s hoping that they will start to carry these chile peppers regularly!

I’ve never really cooked with green chiles. My experience with them has mostly been meals someone else has cooked or take-out. So, for this Improv Challenge, I’m sharing one of Bryan’s recipes that I’ve adapted. This is one of the few things he would cook for me when we first met!

Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Bryan’s recipe (I think he said he learned this from his family?)

Ingredients

  • 500 grams lean (or extra lean) ground beef – approximate cost $5.50
  • 10 fresh green chile peppers (New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch chile, Big Jim chile, Rio Grandechile or Sandia chile) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Roast the chile peppers, making sure all sides are roasted (so the skins will peel away easily later).
  2. Set the roasted chile peppers in the fridge to cool.
  3. Remove the cooled chile peppers from the fridge.
  4. Roll each of the chile peppers to loosen the seeds.
  5. Cut off the tops of the chile peppers.
  6. Pour out as many seeds as possible.
    1. If you want the soup spicy, reserve a few of the seeds.
    2. If you want the soup mild, gently wash the inside of the peppers with cold water to remove the remaining seeds.
  7. Wash your hands very well with lots of soap and avoid rubbing your eyes for a while to ensure the chile peppers will not burn you.
  8. Peel the roasted skin away from the chile pepper.
  9. Discard the skin.
  10. Dice the chile peppers.
  11. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.
  12. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  13. Add the ground beef.
  14. Break the beef into pieces using a wooden spoon.
  15. Brown the beef (there shouldn’t be any more pink).
  16. Add the chile peppers.
  17. Mix well.
  18. Add the diced tomatoes (as well as the liquid from the can).
  19. Mix well.
  20. Add half cup water (the beef mixture should be just covered by the liquid.
  21. Bring to a boil.
  22. Add the sea salt.
  23. Taste the broth and add more salt if necessary.
  24. Remove from heat.
  25. Serve hot in soup bowls.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.65 per serving).



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