Chicken Fajitas? In casserole form?
You mean, no screaming hot plate of peppers and chicken to burn my hands on? No constructing-every-portion-as-you-go? And, if you aren't constructing fajitas along the way, does that mean no extraneous plates of toppings lying around that you will eventually have to wash later that night?
If all that hasn't convinced you, how about this? Layers of tortilla, Spanish rice, smoky chicken, and sautéed peppers and onions, all tied together with a super-cheesy queso sauce?
Yep. You had me at queso :-)
For me, this is comfort food at its best. You know, being a Mexican food-aholic and all. I love chicken fajitas (all kinds of fajitas, really) but I don't order them all that much. For one, they are usually expensive. Second, I don't really like that sizzling hot plate that restaurants bring out. I'm always afraid I'm going to burn myself. So, when it became obvious last week that I needed a Mexican-food fix, I thought why not try out this casserole idea I'd been kicking around for awhile?
I used some shortcuts to make this casserole speedier. Shortcut #1- Rotisserie chicken. I simply took all the leftover meat I had and tossed it with some Taco Seasoning.
By the way, I love having Taco Seasoning already made and ready to go in the cupboard. So convenient.
Queso, oh my. I used shredded queso cheese that I bought at the grocery store for this wonderfully cheesy sauce.
You can't have fajitas without peppers and onions!
Shortcut #2- I used a bag of frozen Spanish Rice that I had on hand. You could make fresh Spanish Rice to use in the casserole, or save time and use leftover rice!
Cut up some tortillas, and then it's time to construct the casserole.
I created my casserole by liberally spraying my pan with cooking spray. Then I layered tortilla strips on the bottom, followed by a layer of Spanish rice. After the rice came a layer of peppers and onions, followed by the chicken. Finally, I poured about half my cheese sauce over the pan before repeating the layers all over again. After I had added the rest of the queso, I sprinkled the top of the casserole with a blend of Mexican cheeses. I popped this bad boy in the oven for 30 minutes, and it came out looking like dis-
Casseroles are the best, aren't they? I sprinkled fresh cilantro over the top of the casserole when it came out of the oven, and then served it with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. I found the casserole to be a one-pot meal, but you could definitely round out the spread with a salad or other vegetable.
It's getting to be that perfect time of year for casseroles, so make this tonight! Nothing says comfort like coming home to a hot, cheesy casserole after a chilly fall day :-)
Have a great weekend everyone!
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups queso cheese
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 tbsp Taco Seasoning
3 soft taco size tortillas, thickly sliced
1 1/2 cups Spanish Rice
1/4 cup blend of Mexican cheeses, shredded
1 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375º. Liberally coat an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. When warm, add peppers and onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until veggies start to soften. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Wipe out pan with a paper towel.
3. Heat butter in the skillet. When melted, add flour. Stir around the pan for 1-2 minutes to cook out some of the raw flour taste. Begin adding milk slowly, generously whisking after each addition. Once all the milk has been added, add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. You want the sauce to be pourable. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Add taco seasoning to the chicken, toss to combine.
5. Begin building the casserole- place a layer of tortillas on the bottom of the pan. Top with 3/4 cup of rice. Spread half the pepper mixture over the rice. Top with 3/4 cup of chicken. Pour half the queso sauce over the casserole. Repeat layers, starting again with tortillas. After adding the remainder of the queso, top the casserole with the Mexican cheese.
6. Place casserole in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, and sprinkle cilantro over casserole. Slice, and serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
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