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Monday, April 21, 2014

Chicken Taco Casserole (updated)

It's been just over a year since I originally posted this recipe. Though I've been making it for years (probably at least 6 years) I keep making tiny adjustments to the recipe. Well, not so much the recipe as the ingredients are still the same, but to the technique.

For one thing, the original recipe required cutting the flour tortillas into quarters so that they fit into the 8x8 baking dish. How did it take so long for me to realize that it would work so much better in a 9-inch round cake pan? No more cutting up the tortillas and trying to make them lie flat in the pan. No more overlapping tortillas making the dish even heavier.

I also discovered that the best way to make chicken taco meat for any recipe (including tacos, quesadillas, and taco salads) is to basically poach the meat in a broth of taco seasoning and water (though you could certainly use chicken broth) allowing for perfectly seasoned, shredded meat. The shredded meat layers much better than the cubed chicken.

Yes, this meal just works much better with these adjustments. In addition, the photos from the original post were horrid. My only camera was the camera on my iPod. With no flash I was left to my own devices to light the food properly and I failed miserably. Hopefully the new photos will make this food look more appetizing because while this meal should not be in regular rotation on anyone's menu (except of course ours because it's one of Aaron's favorites), it could definitely be a once-a-month (or so) meal.

Chicken Taco Casserole

Source: Totally Original!

2-3 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup water or chicken broth
salt to taste
2-3 chicken breasts, cut diagonally into 2-3 cutlets each
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable oil spray and set aside.

Combine the taco seasoning, water, and salt in a large skillet over high heat.

Bring the mixture just to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. You just barely want it to be simmering when you add the chicken.

Add the chicken and cook in the taco seasoning mixture for about 12 minutes per side. (Again, I usually cut the chicken into 2-3 pieces each before cooking, but I was very lazy this time.)

Once the chicken is cooked through transfer it from the skillet to a clean bowl or plate.

Shred the meat with two forks.

Return it to the remaining juices in the skillet and set it aside.

Begin building the casserole by layering the ingredients like a lasagna. Start with a tortilla and spread some of the chicken on it.

Sprinkle about 1/4 of the cheese on top of the chicken.

Continue layering: tortilla, chicken, cheese, for two more layers. End with a tortilla and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Place the casserole in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Transfer the whole thing to a cutting board with a spatula and cut into wedges.

Serve warm, preferably with refried beans and rice.

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