Chicken Enchilada Casserole

My neighbor and I have been taking turns making dinner to eat as we watch the presidential debates.  This is a handy casserole because you can make it a day ahead if you need to and cook it when you get wherever you’re going to eat it.  Also, it is large, and of course, I’m always looking for something I can eat another day (and leave some with Florence as well).  An additional benefit is that it used up an excess of corn tortillas in my refrigerator.  The original recipe, from Cooking Light, set aside this and that for garnishes to be added in the last 5 minutes of cooking.  I was less interested in glamour than tasty and quick to bake, but you could hold back a bit of the green onions, olives, and cheddar and put them on 5 minutes before the casserole is done.  I also lightened the recipe up a bit.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

The chicken filling

1 1/4 pounds cooked, shredded skinless chicken breast (about 4 cups) see Note
1 large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup of beer
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2  14 ounce cans (or 1 28 ounce can) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions
1  2 1/4 ounce can of sliced ripe olives, drained
2  4.5 ounce cans of chopped green chilies, drained

The white sauce

5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups non-fat milk
6 Tablespoons egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)

The rest of the assembly

Cooking spray
6  6-8 inch corn tortillas, cut in half
6 ounces reduced fat cheese (I would have just used that pre-shredded reduced fat four cheese Mexican cheese mix, but I only had 2 ounces of it in the refrigerator.  So I added whatever reduced fat cheese was there, mostly cheddar and a little Swiss.

Serve with:
Salsa
Fat free sour cream

If you are going to bake the casserole right away, preheat oven to 350 F.

Note on the shredded chicken:  You can use any cooked chicken breast you have, like from soup, etc.  I defrosted a couple of chicken breasts and put them in a shallow bowl with about a cup of water.  I microwaved them, covered, on 7 for about 4 minutes on each side.  They were ugly, but very juicy, and could easily be shredded with a fork.

For the chicken filling:

Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray.  Place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender but not brown, stirring occasionally.  Add shredded chicken, beer, red pepper, and tomatoes. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. (Confession, after 20 minutes, my liquids hadn’t evaporated enough, so when I used the filling, I used a slotted spoon to drain it a little more.) Remove chicken mixture from the heat. Stir in green onions, olives, and chilies.  Set the mixture aside.

For the white sauce:

Put eggs substitute in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together flour, salt, cumin, and coriander in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring until it is well-blended (be sure no lumps are clinging to the sides).  Place over medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly.  Yes, I know it is boring to stand and whisk. Pour yourself something tasty to drink and think of far away places.  Just don’t stop whisking or you will have a lumpy mess.  Believe me, I know.  When it is nice and creamy and thick, gradually add the hot milk mixture to the egg substitute, stirring the eggs substitute and milk mixture constantly with a whisk.  Set aside.

To assemble:

OK, now the fun begins.  You should have a big pan full of chicken mix, a bowl of white sauce, a bowl of shredded cheese, and tortillas.  Spray a 2 1/2 quart round casserole or soufflé dish with cooking spray.  Put a half cup of white sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish.  Arrange 4 tortilla halves over the sauce, top with 2 cups of chicken mixture, 1/2 cup of white sauce, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat the layers twice more – you will wind up ending with cheese – sprinkle all the remaining cheese over the top.

If you are baking this right away, bake for 40 minutes at 350, or until bubbly.  If you are putting it in the refrigerator ahead of time, bake for 1 hour (mine took about 15 minutes longer) at 350, or until bubbly.

Serve with salsa and low fat sour cream.

This makes 8 servings with about 6 grams of fat per serving.

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ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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