Apparently this is a serious pot-luck dish in Texas – who knew? Traditionally, it appears as though most recipes are based on 2 or more cans of condensed soup, but this rather quick version from America’s Test Kitchen book, ‘The Chicken Bible’, reminds me of chicken tortilla soup, but in a baking pan. Also, I followed the recipe and used raw chicken (chicken poached in creamy tomato goodness – trust!), but a shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken could easily be substituted to save yourself some time – enjoy!
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, chopped into chunks or strips
1 T. butter for cooking AND 2 onions, diced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced (the original recipe calls for 2, you decide)
2 t. EACH cumin AND kosher salt
2 cans (284 mL/10 oz) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies – I found these in my local supermarket
5 T. flour
3 c. chicken broth AND 1 c. heavy cream
~1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into thin strips
~4 c. good strong shredded cheese (Colby Jack was recommended, mine was a blend)
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
2 to 3 c. crushed corn chips (Fritos if you can find them, I used Old Dutch)
Preheat the oven to 450 and place the cut up corn tortillas on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Give them all an even dusting with olive oil spray and then bake for 10 to 12 minutes until very crisp and a bit browned. Leave to cool while you prep the rest.
Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the onion, jalapeño, cumin and salt and sauté for a few minutes until the mix is lightly browned. Add both cans of tomatoes and their juices and simmer for several minutes while occasionally stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for another minute until there’s no trace of the flour. Add the broth and cream and if you have a heavy whisk, use it to blend and remove any obvious lumps as the sauce is coming to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, cook for a couple of minutes until it’s thickened slightly, then stir in all of the raw chicken. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through (this should be pretty quick if you’ve cut it into thin slices), then remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheese and cilantro.
Spray a large, deep, 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and place it on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Reduce the oven heat to 400 and scatter half of the cooled corn tortillas across the bottom of the prepared dish. Evenly scoop on half of the chicken mix, followed by the remaining corn tortillas, then the remaining sauce. Cover this tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes (longer if this is coming out of the fridge). Remove the foil – it should be bubbling nicely all over – then scatter the crushed corn chips evenly over all. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the corn chips are nicely browned. Allow the casserole to rest like a lasagna for 10 minutes or so and then dish up into large bowls (and cover with more hot sauce!).