I first saw this easy, yummy concoction on one of those traveling restaurant review TV shows. Don’t remember when or who the host was. I just remember how yummy, gooey and Cheesy it looked! But I was curiously unsuccessful in my recent quest to unearth the recipe on the Web…
I believe I first saw this dish made in a Texas diner which perpetuated the beloved recipes of the owners Mom. One of these was something like a cross between Lasagna, Mac & Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie. Sounds weird, right?
Well, they called the concoction ‘Cassalata’. At least, that’s what I wrote down at the time. And when I went to Google it, expecting to find dozens, if not hundreds, of recipes. I found… Nothing!
Then, I tried googling ‘Texas Chicken Tortilla Casserole’. That got me dozens of recipes for ‘Texas Lasagna’, Chicken and Rice casseroles, and related dishes. Still not what I wanted. Finally, I tried ‘Texas Chicken and Tortilla Casserole’. And I got one recipe similar enough to what I was looking for to get me started building my own version.
You’re gonna love this…
Get together the following ingredients:
At least 12 6 in. / 25 cm Flour tortillas
4 cups / 1000 ml cooked, de-boned, shredded Chicken
1 Green Sweet Pepper diced 1/2 in. / 1 cm
1 Red or Yellow Sweet Pepper diced 1/2 in. / 1.5 cm
I Tomatilla, finely chopped (optional)
1 Jalapeño Pepper finely chopped (or less, to taste)
2 cloves Garlic finely diced
1 medium Sweet Onion, diced 1/2 in. / 1.5 cm
1/2 cup / 125 ml Flour
1/4 cup / 65 ml Butter or Vegetable Oil
3 cups / 750 ml Milk
4 cups / 1000 ml Grated Cheddar Cheese
Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
First, make the filling…
This is a great dish to use up leftover Chicken or Turkey! Remove the meat from the skin and bones and set aside.
Get the Vegetable oil going at Medium-high in a large, deep fry pan or a large pot. Add the diced Onion, Garlic, Jalapeño (to taste) and Tomatilla (if using) and Sweet Peppers and cook for a few minutes until the Onion goes transparent. Then add the flour, sprinkling it in all over the top of the Veggies. Stir until all the flour is coated with Oil. Cook until the Flour and Veggie Mixture begins to show foamy white edges. Then add the Milk, pouring steadily and stirring until it’s all in the pan. Switch to a whisk and whisk continually until the mixture thickens, becomes smooth and no longer tastes floury. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. Now, add the Chicken (or Turkey, as the case may be) and stir it in gently. Your filling is done. Remove from heat and set aside.
Build the casserole…
In a 9 in. / 23 cm by 13 in. / 33 cm glass casserole dish. spoon in two or three serving spoonfuls of the filling, heavy on the sauce. This will keep the casserole from sticking on the bottom. Next, line the bottom with six Tortillas, allowing them to wrap up onto the sides of the dish as necessary while overlapping each other by about 1 in. / 2.5 cm. Next, scatter a cup of grated Cheese on top of that, followed by about half the filling. Scatter another cup of grated Cheese on top of that and cover with 6 more Tortillas, Now add another cup of Cheese, followed by the rest of the filling, followed by the last of the grated Cheese.
Bake in your pre-heated oven until the filling starts to bubble (you’ll see it clearly through the glass casserole dish) and then raise the oven to 375 F or 400 F for a few minutes, just until the Cheese on top is fully melted and golden on its high spots. When done, remove from oven and let sit for 20-30 min, until the casserole has set, before attempting to cut and serve.
Something completely different…
For me, after a week of the same old Roasts, Chops, Pastas and so on, this dish shines through as something refreshingly different, both in appearance and flavour! I love it almost as much as I love my fave Mac & Cheese (with Ham and Sweet Pepper cubes). Next time you have Chicken or Turkey leftover, think about this really different ‘encore’ recipe for it!
~ Maggie J.