A Satisfying Casserole Dinner for the Entire Family
A baked casserole is always a favorite weeknight meal, especially in the colder months when it’s nice to heat up the kitchen with a soothing and hearty meal. Mexican-inspired tortilla casseroles are a fun change of pace from more typical noodle, rice, or potato-based casserole dishes. They’re also great for using up those packages of tortillas in the fridge or pantry that might not be the freshest; bake them in a casserole and they’ll absorb all the delicious flavors of your other ingredients, as well as crisp up nicely on the top!
I wanted to make a chicken tortilla casserole that wasn’t overloaded with heavy cheeses, cream sauces and resulting fat and calories. I also wanted to kick up the seasonings a bit by adding some ground chili peppers and powder, and a splash of tequila while cooking the chicken to give it a bit more “adult” flavor. I think my resulting Chicken Tortilla Casserole was really good, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Chicken Tortilla Casserole: The Recipe
Obviously this is a recipe you can vary and modify in many different ways, depending on your tastes. You might want to try preparing it with canned or frozen corn instead of beans, adding some chopped jalapeno peppers for more spice, or even using skinless chicken breasts for a leaner preparation (I like the flavor of chicken thighs better, personally.)
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 40 min
- Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
- Yields: 4-6 servings
- 4 whole bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
- 1/4 cup tequila
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, pureed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 10.75 oz. can condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
- 16 black olives, pitted
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup cheese (Monterrey Jack, cheddar or mozzarella), shredded
- 16 corn tortillas, cut into thin slices
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Chili powder, to taste
- Chipotle pepper powder, to taste
- Ground cumin, to taste
- Sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F while preparing ingredients. Combine and mix chopped peppers, onion and beans in a bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt, chili powder, cumin and chipotle. Brown chicken thighs on both sides in skillet, about 10 minutes.
Add tequila to deglaze the pan, scraping up any skin and meat stuck to pan.
Add chicken stock and condensed soup to pan. Combine and warm through while continuing to cook the chicken, approximately another 10 minutes. Add additional spices to taste.
Grease a baking dish or casserole with remaining vegetable oil. Layer in half of the sliced tortillas. Top with cheese, then half the vegetable/bean mixture, then the cilantro.
Add in the browned chicken thighs. Pour over pureed tomatoes and top with olives. Cover chicken thighs with remaining vegetables, then the rest of the tortillas.
Pour the cooking broth over the layered casserole until liquid is just under tortilla layer, approximately 2 cups. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake casserole for 40 minutes, until top is browned and chicken thighs are fully cooked through.
Let casserole set for a few minutes before cutting in to serve. Enjoy!