A few weeks, not long after the weather turned chilly and we could no longer deny that winter was around the corner, I received an e-mail update from Cooking Light featuring a collection of comfort food casseroles. Perfect timing or what?
I find that we crave comfort food in the winter. I am sure it is an ancient defense mechanism related to when we were one step away from hibernating. I solid layer of fat (or a jiggly one, to be honest) was a useful thing to help survive a cold winter.
Today, in the days of central heat and regular trips to a well-stocked grocery store a good layer of fat is no longer considered an asset.
The fact that these comfort food recipes were low-cal and low-fat made them rather appealing.
This was a very good chicken enchilada casserole. I used rotisserie chicken because I had some on hand and still found this to be labor intensive and it uses several pans and the blender so there was a lot to clean up afterwards. . . good thing Paolo was around.
This may not be a weeknight recipe (unless you're home at 3 PM) but it is definitely a worthy one!
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chopped onion, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425°.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.
Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, 1/4 cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove tortillas from pan; repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into quarters.
Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.