CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Southwest Tortilla Chicken Casserole

What started off as a remembrance of the Battle of Puebla, a national holiday in Mexico in honor of a military victory in 1862 over French forces of Napoleon III, Cinco de Mayo has become more of a celebration of food these days.

That’s especially true in the United States. Many restaurants feature South-of-the-Border food, and more and more people are hosting Cinco de Mayo parties, where easy-to-fix Mexican goodies such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas and chips and salsa take center stage.

But you don’t have to go out to eat to enjoy a good Mexican meal. You can have it right in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a recipe for those of you who prefer do-it-yourself Mexican. I found it in a small booklet entitled “Summertime Cooking: Recipes to Enjoy Indoors or Out.”

Buen apetito!

Southwest Tortilla Chicken Casserole
4 chicken breast halves, boiled, boned and shredded (reserve broth)
¼ cup onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 10¾-ounce can chicken soup, diluted
1 10¾-ounce can mushroom soup, diluted
1 tablespoon chili powder
12 corn tortillas
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1 6-ounce can black olives, sliced
1 14½-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes with juice
Saute onion green pepper and garlic; set aside.
Mix soups and chili powder. Dip 6 tortillas in reserved hot broth and layer 9-by-13-inch pan. Top with half of chicken and half of sauteed mixture. Spread half of soup mixture over chicken, followed by half of olives and cheese. Repeat layers starting with tortillas. Pour tomatoes over casserole, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

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