For sometime now, and I am sure it is due to the five heat waves we've been hit with, Dan and I have been craving tacos. I wasn't in the mood to deal with all of the prep work involved in making tacos (which, to be honest, is minuscule), so I set out to make a little chicken taco casserole, inspired by this recipe I found after doing a quick Google search. The photo looked very appetizing but it was the 6-ingredient list that sold me. So, I made a mental list of all that I needed and headed off the the grocery store. I intended to replace the jar of pasta sauce (which is probably tasty but seems sort of strange to me to be in a Mexican dish) with some sort of prepared enchilada sauce. Unfortunately, the can of enchilada sauce was nearly $5, so I grabbed a can of tomatillos and figured we'd work something out.
Chicken Taco Casserole
inspired by this Cheesy Chicken Taco Casserole
1.5 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Taco seasoning of choice
Salt and pepper
9 (5-inch) corn tortillas (or 6, if like mine, yours are larger)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Taco Sauce (recipe to follow)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (8 oz.)
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 can of tomatillos, drained
1/2-1 cup of your favorite salsa
1/3 cup of sour cream (more of less to suit your taste)
zest and juice of one lime
1 tablespoon of chili powder (again, more or less to suit your taste)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper and 1/4 of taco seasoning package. Place in a skillet and add cold water to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, turning once or twice, until opaque and firm, about 10 minutes.
While chicken is cooking, make sauce. In a blender, puree tomatillos, lime zest and juice, salsa, sour cream, and chili powder. Taste test and experiment with ingredients until you reach the flavors desired. Set aside.
Once chicken has finished cooking, remove (reserving approximately 1/2 cup of seasoned water), let cool and cut into small pieces or shred. You should have about 3 cups cut-up chicken. Pour chicken back into skillet with the water you reserved and add your remaining package of taco seasoning. Mix together.
Spread one-third of sauce over bottom of a 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 tortillas, slightly overlapping, on top. Sprinkle one-third of chicken and cilantro over tortillas. Top with a third of cheese. Make two more layers of sauce, tortillas, chicken, cilantro and cheese. Arrange tomato slices on final layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook until top is lightly browned, 10 minutes more.