Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tortilla Casserola with Bacon and Beans

When Andrew and I were first married I would make this tortilla casserole that involved a creamy enchilada soup from Campbells and chicken. I can no longer find the recipe, but this casserole is the same basic idea, but waaaay better. No condensed soups (YUCK), and I used pork and ham (bacon works well, too) as the meat. The ham adds an incredible layer of flavor, that really works well with the beans. It is not an ingredient you see in Mexican style cooking (at least Americanized versions) very often, but was wonderful here and fit right in. The chips, save those on the very top, break down into a poleta-like mush that is fabulous. I started this recipe after looking at a version on Cooks Illustrated. I changed quite a bit, but it was a good starting point for ideas. When do I ever keep things the way they are written?

1# pork-I used steaks sliced into thin pieces, but a roast would work well, too. Also, brine these before you cut them up in a 1/2 palmful of sugar, 2 T salt and enough water to cover. At least 30 minutes. It really helps pork in most dishes.
1 T coconut oil
1 t all purpose seasoning
1/4 onion , diced
3-4 slices cottage bacon, ham or regular bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
1/4 bell pepper, diced
1 cup chicken stock
2 c beans, soaked, rinsed, and simmered until soft
1 pint, or 14 oz can, diced tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo (if you don't have this, add more cumin to the seasoning, plus a couple shots of hot sauce and some chopped peppers like poblano or jalapeno)
5 cups tortilla chips (a great use for ones that have gone stale, but you just don't want to throw away because you didn't very many of them. That never happens here, cough, cough)
2 cups shredded cheese-cheddar, or colbyjack, or monterey jack, Prairie breeze-all would work well
s&p to taste

Begin by sauteeing your pork in the coconut oil, and seasoning it part of the way through with the teaspoon of all purpose. Add the onions, bacon and garlic once the meat is mostly done. Add next the bell pepper, stock, beans, tomatoes, and chipotles. Let this simmer until the sauce has reduced just a bit, maybe 7 minutes. Taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper then remove it from the heat.You are going to build this casserole like a lasagne-but the chips are the noodles. So, using a rectangular baking dish (LOVE my stoneware), start with a layer of 1/3 of the chips. If you are not using stoneware, be sure to grease the bottom of the pan first. Follow the chip layer with half of the meat, then half of the cheese. Repeat those three layers, then top with the last third of the chips.
Bake at 450 degrees until the cheese has melted and the chips have started to brown.
So stinkin' good :)

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