Hatch Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Sometimes food is just not that pretty. I don’t mean dishes that are carelessly slapped together and just look like slop. I’m talking about food that actually tastes great, but is just difficult to doll up without turning it into a hyper-styled Franken-dish. It’s the food we eat and love, but not the food we aspire to. I’m thinking about this as the personal project I shoot for myself. Show real food in the best light possible. But pick subjects that are kind of ugly. This Hatch Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole isn’t a beauty in the sense that a pile of ripe heirloom tomatoes is, but it’s real, it’s homey and it is delicious.

For me, enchilada casserole goes back to my college days and was another one of those Must See TV Thursday night meals. Make a 9×13 pan and it’ll feed a crowd. Since then I’ve made my share of red and green chile enchiladas using canned sauce and Monterey Jack cheese and while those are fine, this is one instance where the ingredients make all the difference. If you can get hold of freshly roasted (or freshly frozen roasted) Hatch chiles, a poblano, and Beecher’s Flagship cheese, this comforting dish goes to a whole new level. And if you can’t get Beecher’s, a sharp white Cheddar will work just fine.

Chile season is just hitting its peak, so I’m sure this will be just one of many chile related posts over the next few weeks. I’ve still gotta make rellenos, a green chile mac n cheese and the green chile hominy casserole over at Homesick Texan. Sometimes the waning days of summer aren’t so bad.

Hatch Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Sauce adapted from Cocinas de New Mexico

Green Chile Sauce
1 T. shortening
1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 c. chicken broth, divided
2 generous cups of Hatch green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped, divided
1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 t. garlic powder
3/4 t. salt

8 yellow corn tortillas
2 c. roasted chicken breast, shredded
2 c. Beecher’s Flagship cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium skillet, melt shortening over medium heat. Saute onion in shortening until softened. Mix in flour and cook 1-2 minutes until floury taste is cooked away. Add 1 c. chicken broth, 1 c. of Hatch chiles, the poblano, garlic powder and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. As it simmers, add in remaining chicken broth to achieve desired consistency.

Cover the bottom of a 10x7x2 baking dish with about 1/4 c. of the green chile sauce. Layer tortillas, chicken, chile sauce, chiles and cheese. Repeat until you have 4 layers, ending with a generous topping of cheese. The tortillas just barely overlap in the 10×7 pan.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, turn heat up to 400 and bake another 10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

RELATED: It’s Hatch Chile Time

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