First, it can be put together in stages or ahead of time which makes it great for dinner during the week as well as on the weekend. Second, the leftovers are just as tasty as when it comes out of the oven for the first time. Third, it is a casserole, and since the leftovers are great, you can make it for a large party of people or just for the family. Whatever the weather, and for a quiet dinner or weekend dinner party, I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Adapted from Trisha Yearwood
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt & Pepper
- Chicken Gravy, recipe follows
- 1 cup canned green chiles, chopped and drained
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Cooking spray
- Twenty-four 6-inch corn tortillas
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 1/3 cups chicken stock
- 6 tablespoons light butter (or salted)
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup skim milk
- Salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and the flour turns light brown in color. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock and milk and continue to stir while cooking over medium heat. When the mixture thickens, after about 5 minutes, whisk in some salt and pepper.
In a large saucepan, combine 2 1/3 cups of chicken stock, the Chicken Gravy, green chiles, onions, garlic, sour cream, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Chill overnight.
Salt and pepper chicken breasts. Grill the chicken breasts until cooked through (165 degrees). (You can also boil them, but I think the grill imparts additional flavor and it doesn't add another pot to clean). Once cooked, set the chicken aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 3 quart casserole dish or 13- by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture into the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of 6 tortillas over the mixture*, and then top with 1 cup shredded chicken and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat this layer three more times, ending with cheese. Spread remaining mixture over the cheese. Make sure all of the tortillas are covered or they will get very hard during baking. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
*The number of tortillas will vary according to the dish that you use. In the casserole dish I used (shown in the picture), I put a couple whole tortillas as well as cut a few tortillas into halves so the bottom was covered but there wasn't too much overlap.
A note on make ahead prep:
1) All aspects of this dish can be made ahead of time. Store shredded chicken in an airtight container, shred the cheese ahead of time, and make the chicken gravy and sauce, storing that in an airtight container as well. The day of serving, layer everything up and put it in the oven - your baking time might increase since all of the ingredients will be chilled.
2) You can also make the gravy/sauce the day before, then grill the chicken breasts and assemble the day of serving. You can assemble immediately before baking or assemble and put into the refrigerator for baking later on in the day.
3) If all fails, and you don't read through the recipe until the day of (a common fault of mine which has led to a change in dinner plans more than once), the chicken gravy/sauce can be made the day of; I find that it is more runny and therefore the casserole is more "sloppy" when serving.
Chicken Tortilla Casserole (printable version)