Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just felt like it


I just felt like I had to have a chicken tortilla thingy last night. I had spent hours pouring over cookbooks and trying to decide what to make when I realized I just wanted this casserole. It is simple and good.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Tex Mex Lasagna
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
Olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 14-oz can pinto beans, rinsed in cold water and drained (or you can cook your own pinto beans from scratch)
2 teaspoons bacon fat (can substitute olive oil)
1/2 cup water
2 medium onions
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen "Fire Roasted"
1 7-oz can diced green Anaheim chiles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 corn tortillas
2 cups coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 oz)
2 cups coarsely grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)

Sour cream
Iceberg lettuce

1 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up as you add it. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle on the chile powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander. Increase the heat to high. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir the meat unnecessarily. Allow it to brown on one side, and then stir it so the other side can be browned. As soon as the meat is browned, remove the pan from the burner. The meat will continue to cook in the heat of the cast iron pan. Once you are sure that the meat is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a bowl. Set aside.

2. While the meat is cooking, heat bacon fat in another frying pan on medium high. Add the rinsed, drained cooked pinto beans to the pan. Mash gently with a potato masher (careful if you are using a stick-free pan not to scratch the surface of the pan). Stir in enough water so that the beans are easily thinly spreadable, about a half a cup. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside. Note you could skip this step by using canned refried beans than have been thinned with water. We have found that the canned refried beans do not taste as good as rinsed canned whole beans that have been refried on the stovetop. Best is to make the beans from scratch but not everyone has time for that.

3. Once the meat is done cooking, and has been removed from the pan in step 1, add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat to medium. Add the onions and chopped bell peppers, cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, green chilies and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the tortillas.

4. In a 9-inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on medium high heat until it is sizzling hot, but not smoking. Cook the tortillas one at a time, for 5 seconds on each side, so that they soften, but don't get crisp. Remove with tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 13x9x3-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

6. In baking dish arrange 4 tortillas in one layer, overlapping slightly (tortillas will not cover bottom completely). Spread half of bean mixture evenly over tortillas in dish and top with half of meat mixture. Sprinkle one third cheese over the meat and spread half of the sauce over the cheese.

Repeat layering of tortillas, beans, meat, cheese, and sauce and top with remaining 4 tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas. Bake casserole on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling. Let the casserole stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8. Serve with sour cream, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce on which has been sprinkled vinegar and salt.

Last minute the neighbors came to dinner and it was the perfect thing. I would definately make this again.

Because I really am stupid I forgot to take a picture of the finished goods. Once again you get leftovers



  1. Hey I made Tex Mex Lasagna the other night. The recipe was almost the same as this one, and it called for 12 tortillas as well. I thought it could have used more tortillas in each layer.

  2. I've seen this recipe on Simply Recipes and have always wanted to try it, too. Looks like a perfect dinner for a crisp fall night!

  3. I love Elise's recipes on her blog. This sounds fabulous and comforting. I'm excited that you are a knitter too! I want to learn, it's on my "one day..." list! You should totally check out Jacobs Reward Farm and her blog, and she even has stuff on sale on her etsy page. Some awesome fiber and yarn!

  4. I've seen this recipe on Simply Recipes and have always wanted to try it, too. Looks like a perfect dinner for a crisp fall night!