Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unstuffed


Sometimes I like to take a recipe and see if I can make it taste the same but assembled differently.  Chile Rellenos are a Tex-Mex favorite, and they are a favorite in this household too.  So why not make it a casserole! I cook meals for another family, and the dad in the family loves Chile Rellenos.  Imagine his excitement when I delivered this meal to him. Although it's probably not any healthier than fried Chile Rellenos, it is a little easier than the stuffed version.  Our picky 12-year-old son even loved this, which is surprising because he won't go near peppers.  Maybe if I told him peppers would save his life then he would eat peppers.  But he did eat these.  Poblanos are mild and very delicious.  They are great in many Tex-Mex dishes.

So, with layers of roasted poblanos, chicken filling, corn tortillas, Chili Gravy (another Tex-Mex favorite), and, of course, lots of cheese, this Chile Rellenos Casserole was a big hit around here.  And we didn't have to get out the deep fryer, which is a great day in my book.  And no delicate stuffing of a pepper made for an easy meal.

Do your kids eat peppers?

CHILE RELLENOS CASSEROLE
4 poblano peppers
2 C cooked, shredded chicken
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C chicken stock
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 packet Ranch Dip mix
1 onion, chopped
2-4 T chopped jalapeno slices (the kind in a jar)
1 1/2 to 2 C shredded Pepper Jack cheese
About 6 corn tortillas

FOR THE CHILI GRAVY:
1/4 C lard (or vegetable oil)
1/4 C flour
2 C chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 T chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

To roast the poblanos, put them on a sheet pan and cook them at 400 degrees, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred all over.  Remove from the oven.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel as much of the skin off as you can.  Cut off the stem end.  Make a slice down one side of the pepper, not all the way through, so that you can open the pepper up and lay it out flat.  Scrape out the seeds.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

To make the chili gravy, melt the lard in a skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour.  Whisk in the chicken stock and the remaining ingredients.  Cook and whisk until thickened and bubbly.  Remove from heat.

To make the chicken filling, cook the onion and jalapenos in some olive oil over medium high heat until tender.  Add in the chicken, garlic, cream cheese, Ranch Dip mix, and chicken stock.  Cook and stir until the cream cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.

To assemble the casserole, first soften the corn tortillas in the microwave in a damp towel.  Ladle half of the chili gravy into an 8 x 8 casserole pan. Lay the poblanos flat in the bottom of the pan, overlapping if necessary. Spread the chicken filling over the poblanos.  Lay the tortillas over the chicken filling, overlapping if necessary.  Ladle the remaining chili gravy over the tortillas.  Sprinkle the cheese all over the top.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted and browned.

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