Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Make Ahead Texas Chicken Casserole

When I first looked at this recipe I knew there was no way I would be able to make it close to dinner time. There are lots of ingredients and too many steps. However, this is a perfect make-ahead dish. I REALLY LOVE enchilada sauce and I was excited to try this homemade sauce. It's definitely not a quick meal, but it's worth the time it takes to prepare it.

The Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (this is about 3)
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
dash ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, and finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) optional
1 clove garlic, minced
2 4-ounce jars diced pimiento, drained
2 4-ounce cans diced green chile peppers, undrained
2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons chile powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash ground black pepper
1 cup sour cream
12 6-inch tostada shells
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

At Ten O'Clock

In a large saucepan, combine chicken, the water, bay leaf, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, one clove garlic, and dash black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Drain, reserving 2 cups broth. Chop chicken. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add onion, tomatillos (if desired), and one clove garlic; cook until onion is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in pimiento, green chile peppers, and jalapeno chile peppers. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and dash black pepper. You will need to stir this as you add all the ingredients so you don't get any lumps. Gradually stir in reserved 2 cups of broth. (Your broth should be hot when you stir it into the butter/flour mixture. You may need to heat it again before adding it otherwise your sauce will be clumpy.) Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream.

In an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish, arrange six of the tostada shells, overlapping slightly. Top with half of the chicken, half of the onion mixture, half of the sour cream mixture, and half of the cheese. Top with the remaining tostada shells, chicken, onion mixture, sour cream mixture, and cheese.

Cover casserole loosely with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Before Serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with pico de gallo or salsa, if desired.

Family Approval
When I was making this, I thought it might be too spicy for my kids. They're pretty picky eaters, and I was worried it might be too strong for them to eat. Boy, was I wrong! My 7-year-old, quickly cleaned his plate and told me this was his second favorite thing I've made (he loves the chicken salad). This dish could easily become a family favorite. When I make it again, I won't overlap my tostada shells so much. I would probably break them apart so they barely overlap. I liked it better when there was only one layer of tostada on the bottom instead of two. I would highly recommend this dish!


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