Monday, October 28, 2013

Beef Tortilla Casserole

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anthing since July! Life is and has been busy between work, kids and, Pete's training and racing and wedding planning. But no matter how busy it gets, I find the time to cook good food.

I love Mexican food; tacos, burritos, tortillas and gucamole. At home, I generally only cook tacos, so I decided to branch out and try something different and new. I always shy away from casseroles because they make so much food, but with Pete training - and the fact that he loves leftovers - I don't mind making larger meals.

I always reach for my Cook's Illustrated The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook when I am looking for inspiration. I have never made a bad recipe out of this cookbook. The Beef Tortilla Casserole is fantastic, but it does use several pots and pans. I know it's a pain, but the dish is worth the pots and pans!

I made a few alterations to the recipe to fit our likes. I am not a fan of spicy food, so I left out the chipotle chiles, I added 1/2 tsp of cumin and I used ground turkey instead of beef. I cut this recipe in half and it worked out well.

Beef Tortilla Casserole
Courtesy of The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serves 6-8

- 2 TBS Vegetable Oil
- 2 Red Bell Peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 1 Onion, minced
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- Salt
- 2 lbs. (90% lean) Ground Beef
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, minced
- 2 cans (15.5 oz) pinto beans, rinsed
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (I always use petite diced)
- 6 TBS fresh Cilantro, chopped
- 2 TBS fresh Lime Juice
- 18 (6 inch) corn tortillas
- 8 oz (2 cups) Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 oz (2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 300°.
2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.
3. Add the bell peppers and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in the broth, chipotles, beans, and tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
7. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and the lime juice.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Meanwhile, spray both sides of the tortillas with vegetable oil spray and spread out over two baking sheets (some overlap is fine).
10. Bake until the tortillas are soft and pliable, about 5 minutes.
11. Remove the tortillas from the oven and increase oven temperature to 450°.
12. Spread 1/3 of the beef mixture in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
13. Layer 6 of the tortillas on top of the filling, overlapping as needed, then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of each cheese.
14. Repeat to form a second layer.
15. Spread the remaining filling in the baking dish.
16. Cut the remaining 6 tortillas into quarters, then spread over the top.
17. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of each cheese.
18. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling, about 15 minutes.
19. Let cool for 10 minutes.
20. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro before serving.

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