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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

enchilada lasagna

enchilada lasagna

For people who work long hours during the week, the concept of making a few meals on Sunday that you can easily bake or reheat during the week has got to be pretty appealing. Even though I work from home, and theoretically could use all the time I save not having a commute on cooking something fresh and inspired every night, sometimes I just can't - or don't want to - get away from my laptop with enough energy to do anything special. But my problem is that the only ideas I've really had for this prepped-on-Sunday eaten-on-weekday meal is your standard lasagna. So I started looking for other options, and found this interesting recipe for Enchilada Lasagna (by Emeril). It has the same components as an Italian lasagna, with these tweaks: layers of corn tortillas in lieu of pasta, layers of seasoned meat (shredded chicken), and this great pepper jack cheese sauce instead of bechamel or ricotta-based sauce. I ended up baking it right away and then reheating in the oven during the week, since I wasn't sure what the corn tortillas would do in the fridge next to all that moisture from the sauce over the course of a day or 2.  This makes a pretty huge batch (probably 8+ portions?), so it's great for a dinner party too.

Grocery list: butter, flour, milk, chicken stock, 8 oz shredded pepper jack cheese, 18 corn tortillas, 4 cups (2 pounds) cooked shredded chicken, 2 tsp "Emeril's Southwest Essence" (i.e. equal parts salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin, plus a pinch of cayenne and coriander), roasted poblano peppers, green onions, cilantro, 3 cups shredded monterey jack cheese, 4 oz shredded queso anejo (or parmesan), 1 cup chopped tomatoes, plus sour cream and salsa for serving.

flour and butter for pepper jack sauce

You start off by making the pepper jack cheese sauce, just like any bechamel type sauce. Melt 6T butter, then whisk in 6T flour. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk - just a little at a time, stirring after each addition until it is combined. Then stir in 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken up very nicely.

pepper jack cheese sauce

Now, add 8 oz shredded pepper jack cheese, stir well, then season with salt and remove from the heat. Emeril adds a step here where you'd fry each tortilla individually in oil to soften them up - which I think would be necessary if you're having the tortillas in enchiladas or fajitas, but I decided to skip it. I didn't miss the extra oil, but you might opt to try this step if you want...

enchilada lasagna assembling

If you've already shredded your cooked chicken, you can just start assembling. I used 2 pyrex dishes (his recipe said a 9 x 13 casserole, but I swear there's no way all that food could fit in that space), lightly greased. Put one cup of sauce in the bottom of your dish (note - 1 cup for one dish, or split proportionately if you use 2 different sized dishes), then layer 6 of the tortillas. Lay half of the shredded chicken on top and sprinkle 1 tsp of the seasoning ("Essence") over it. Then you lay half the peppers - his recipe said "6 poblanos" but I cheated and used a canned version I found in WF instead of roasting whole ones myself. Then spread 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 1 1/2 cups of cheese sauce, plus 1 cup of the monterey jack. Make another layer exactly like that one (this would finish off everything but 6 remaining tortillas, some sauce, and 1 cup of monterey jack).

enchilada lasagna ready to bake

Finish by laying down the last 6 tortillas, and spread the rest of the pepper jack sauce over it. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped tomatoes and a handful of chopped cilantro, and the rest of the monterey jack over this layer. Top with a little shredded queso anejo (I substituted parmesan, as the recipe suggests). Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. [If you're making this ahead, just take it out after the 45 minutes and allow to cool, then refrigerate for a couple of days until you're ready to eat it. Then you'd need to warm it in the oven w/the foil on for 20-30 minutes, then finish the rest of the baking w/the foil off.]

enchilada lasagna 2

To serve, top with a little more chopped cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and a generous amount of salsa or pico de gallo.

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