Easy Comfort Food While Cruising: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Four Ways to Create an Ultra-Easy Dish

While at anchor a glass of wine dresses up a casual meal
While at anchor a glass of wine dresses up a casual meal

Sooooo easy! It's all from cans!

Easiest Level: You Don't Need Anything From the Refrigerator

This is certainly not a gourmet recipe, but I have served it many times while cruising, at remote anchorages, and for last minute potluck gatherings with good results. I've actually got several "levels" of this recipe--this first level is made from canned and dried ingredients only. It's perfect if you're one of those die-hard cruisers who are still out there without refrigeration. Also, it's great for last-minute gatherings and unexpected guests when you don't have a thing in the fridge.Just keep the ingredients on hand and you're good-to-go at a moment's notice. This recipe is extremely flexible and very easily increased. The quantities I show will serve 4 people generously as a one dish meal. If you have beans, flour tortillas, salad, etc. as part of your meal, you can serve more people.

Equipment needed: large mixing bowl, large spoon, knife for slicing, 2 quart casserole, microwave or oven (I haven't tried it, but I believe one could also use a dutch oven on the store top)

Ingredients needed: 1 large (6-8 oz.) can cooked chicken, one can cream of mushroom soup, 2 T. dried onion bits, 1 jar queso dip, 1 can diced green chiles, 1 dozen corn tortillas

Put it together: Empty the can of cooked chicken with the liquid into the mixing bowl and break apart the larger pieces of chicken. Add the dried onion, cream of mushroom soup, green chiles, and about half the queso dip. ALL of the ingredients can be adjusted to taste but I'd be careful about adding too much dip as it has more of a processed taste. I usually add at least 2 cans of green chile. Mix together gently. You don't want to mush up the chicken.

Slice up tortillas into 1 inch slices, then chop horizontally until you have little 1 inch square pieces. They don't have to be neat! I only cut up a few tortillas at a time so I don't have left over pieces. You will probably have some leftover whole tortillas. Again, this is very flexible and can be adjusted to taste.

Layer the ingredients: Place a layer of chopped tortillas in the bottom of your casserole dish. It's about 3 tortillas worth in a round casserole, more in a larger square one. Then spoon enough of the chicken mixture over it to just barely cover the tortillas. Repeat until all ingredients are used.

Now cook it: Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the middle section bubbles. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

I only have a microwave which also works for this dish, but a regular oven is better if you have one. Microwave uncovered on high for 15-20 minutes until the middle is bubbling. Be sure to check often the first time you make this, as microwaves vary. Let sit covered for about 5 minutes before serving.

Let's eat! Sometimes we eat this as a one dish meal, but you really should add some shredded lettuce, tomato, and refried beans if you have them. A dollop of sour cream is good, too. A side of flour tortillas or sopapillas really makes this a feast.






If you can't find fresh, roasted green chile, canned green chile from Hatch Farms is the next best thing

Level Two: Still Easy but Requires Refrigerated Ingredients

Equipment needed: large mixing bowl, large spoon, knife for slicing, 2 quart casserole, microwave or oven

Ingredients needed: 2 pkgs. grilled chicken breast strips, one can cream of mushroom soup, 4 oz. chicken broth, 2 T. dried onion bits, 8-12 oz. cheddar or jack cheese(or combine both), 1 can diced green chiles, 1 dozen corn tortillas

Put it together: Dice the chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Add the dried onion, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, and green chile. ALL of the ingredients can be adjusted to taste; I usually add at least 2 cans of green chile. Mix together.

Grate the cheese(s).

Slice up tortillas into 1 inch slices, then chop horizontally until you have little 1 inch square pieces. They don't have to be neat! I only cut up a few tortillas at a time so I don't have left over pieces. You will probably have some leftover whole tortillas. Again, this is very flexible and can be adjusted to taste.

Layer the ingredients: Place a layer of chopped tortillas in the bottom of your casserole dish. It's about 3 tortillas worth in a round casserole, more in a larger square one. Then spoon enough of the chicken mixture over it to just barely cover the tortillas. Then sprinkle the grated cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Be sure to save some cheese for the top.

Now cook it: Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the middle section bubbles. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

I only have a microwave which also works for this dish, but a regular oven is better if you have one. Microwave uncovered on high for 15-20 minutes until the middle is bubbling. Be sure to check often the first time you make this, as microwaves vary. Let sit covered for about 5 minutes before serving.

Let's eat! Sometimes we eat this as a one dish meal, but you really should add some shredded lettuce, tomato, and refried beans if you have them. A dollop of sour cream is good, too. A side of flour tortillas or sopapillas really makes this a feast.






You might also try a deli chicken that's already roasted

Level Three: Still Easy but More Time Consuming

This recipe will require a larger casserole dish and serves about 8.

Equipment needed: large mixing bowl, skillet for sauteing, large spoon, knife for slicing, large casserole dish, roasting pan, conventional oven

Ingredients needed: 1 medium roasting chicken, one can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 4 oz. chicken broth,1 medium onion, 2 T. cooking oil, 8-12 oz. cheddar or jack cheese (or a combination of both), 1 can diced green chiles, 1 dozen corn tortillas

First you've gotta' roast the chicken! Roast chicken uncovered in a roasting pan at 350 for one hour or until juices from the chicken run clear. Let chicken cool enough to handle, then pull meat from the bones.

Dice the onion and saute in the cooking oil until translucent.

Put it together: Dice the chicken into small bite-sized pieces. Add the sauteed onion, cream of mushroom and chicken soups, chicken broth, and green chile. ALL of the ingredients can be adjusted to taste; I usually add at least 2 cans of green chile. Mix together.

Grate the cheese(s).

Slice up tortillas into 1 inch slices, then chop horizontally until you have little 1 inch square pieces. They don't have to be neat! I only cut up a few tortillas at a time so I don't have left over pieces. You will probably have some leftover whole tortillas. Again, this is very flexible and can be adjusted to taste.

Layer the ingredients: Place a layer of chopped tortillas in the bottom of your casserole dish. It's about 3 tortillas worth in a round casserole, more in a larger square one. Then spoon enough of the chicken mixture over it to just barely cover the tortillas. Then sprinkle the grated cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Be sure to save some cheese for the top.

Now cook it: Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the middle section bubbles. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Let's eat! You really should add some shredded lettuce, tomato, and refried beans if you have them. A dollop of sour cream is good, too. A side of flour tortillas or sopapillas really makes this a feast.






Level Four: For Real Cooks Only

I'm a real eater but not a real cook. I have some ideas, but I'll bet yours are better! Anyway, I'd like to try this with some better cheeses, and I KNOW that it would be delicious with fresh roasted green chile instead of canned. I'm sure a REAL cook would experiment with his or her own sauces rather that rely on canned cream of whatever soups. What about flour tortillas instead of corn? I've also thought of, but never tried, using layers of polenta instead of the tortillas. This is a super-easy recipe to experiment with; I've never had it fail, and, no kidding, I've screwed up making Jello! Good luck, and please let me know what you come up with.

Trying the Chicken Enchilada Recipe

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