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Green Chili Breakfast Casserole
Hate Turned To Love
I don't know when it happened. I can remember hating anything hot while I was growing up in New Jersey. My friends would get the jalapeno cheese and I would pick the all green out. I would pick and pick and only eat it once all that hot green stuff was out. After eating the cheese (having picked out the chilies), my mouth would burn! I always had a big glass of water by my side while eating this cheese. How my friends would laugh and laugh. Then came my downfall. I moved to New Mexico. Slowly, patiently and without malice they addicted me to green chilies.
They fed me salsa, they fed me tacos, they fed me fajitas. They gave me breakfast casserole, green chili stew, menudo. Green chilies took over my taste buds. Now I find that I need green chilies. If I go too long without them, I crave them like a pregnant woman craves pickles and ice cream.
New Mexican Chilies
New Mexico has the world's finest green chilies. At least in my humble opinion. "Hatch" green chilies are the cream of the crop. These are the best green chilies available. The town of Hatch, NM has something, maybe the climate, maybe the soil or maybe something in the water, whatever it is it makes their chilies rule supreme in the chili world.
Hatch is the "Green Chili Capital of the World".
I Love Green Chili
I love green chilies. They have a wonderful smokey, sweet, hot flavor that defies description. I must have my green chilies at least once a week! If I can't I start craving green chilies. I always keep a couple of 4 oz cans of green chilies on hand, just in case. Like last night, the cravings will come on unexpectedly.
When I lived in New Mexico, I always had the Hatch brand in my cupboard. I have not found these out east, so I have to make do with what I can find. I really miss the smell of roasting green chili's that occurs at the end of each summer in New Mexico.
You can go to any Walmart and buy raw green chilies. Once you get outside, you can roast them on the spot. Nothing smells so good as Walmart in chili season! It is so enjoyable to stand and watch the people turn the huge roasters and smell the chili's cooking over an open flame.
Roasted Green Chilies
Roasting Green Chilies
Chili roasting starts in mid to late August in New Mexico. Southern New Mexico grows 75% of the chili peppers you eat. Late summer and early fall will find New Mexicans everywhere gathering with friends and family for "chili parties". They will combine their resources to get a giant batch of roasted chilies, then donning gloves set about the task of peeling, chopping and freezing.
These gatherings are filled with fun, family and friendship. People know they will have to freeze enough chili's to last until the following year. Real New Mexicans frown down on using chili's from a can. They know that the only real green chili was fresh when they bought it. New Mexicans use green chili almost every day of the week, it seems. It is considerable work to prepare a year's worth.
Healthy and Nutritious
Green chilies are remarkably nutritious! One green chili pod has as much vitamin C as 6 oranges. Green chilies are an excellent source of vitamin A and have several necessary minerals. One of my favorite things about green chilies is that they increase your metabolism. That is why you will break out in a sweat while eating chilies.
Chilies and Cheese
Milk and milk products are the best thing to cure that "chili burn" in your mouth. Milk is a natural remedy. Did you ever wonder why milk works and water doesn't? It has to do with some of the chemical compounds found in milk and chilies.
Chilies contain a chemical called capaisin. This chemical is extremely irritating to the human body. Capaisin is the reason you see recommendations to wear gloves and to keep your fingers away from eyes, nose and mouth while cutting chilies. Capaisin is the reason your mouth burns after eating food with chilies.
Milk contains a chemical called casein. Casein is a fat-loving chemical. Capaisin is an oil. Oil and water do not mix and this is why water does not work to cure the "burn". However, capaisin binds well with the casein which allows milk to wash the capaisin down the throat, and the "burn" out of your mouth. Maybe this is why cheese is so often included in chili dishes.
Craving Green Chilies
Last night I was craving green chili's. I looked through my cupboards to find something to make. The cupboards were a little bare, I really need to go shopping. I did end up making a type of green chili breakfast casserole that turned out very good.
Most breakfast casseroles of this type that I have eaten are made with frozen shredded hash brown potatoes. I did not have any on hand, so I substituted some stuffing mix. The result was a dish halfway between breakfast casserole and strata. The kids and I loved it!
- 2 1/2 cups Stuffing Mix, Your Favorite
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1/4 cup Onion, Chopped
- 8 Eggs, Large
- 2 cups Milk, Any Kind
- 1-2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 5 slices Bacon, I use pre-cooked, but you can cook your own if you prefer
- 4 oz can Diced Green Chili, I use mild
- 1 teaspoon Salt, Or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, Or to taste
- Saute the onions in a pot using 1 tablespoon of butter until they begin to brown.
- Add the remaining butter and the water to the pot with the onions. Bring the water to a boil and let the butter melt. Remove from heat and add the stuffing mix. Stir as directed on the package.
- Spray a 9" X 13" pan with Pam or grease with whatever is on hand.
- Put the stuffing mix into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top of the stuffing.
- Chop the bacon and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the cheese.
- Sprinkle the green chilies over the top of the stuffing, cheese and bacon. (You don't have to use the whole can if you think it will be to hot. Start with 1/2 the can and increase until you find the correct heat for your family. You can put the left over green chilies in a baggie and freeze them for another time.)
- Break the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add the milk, salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Pour the egg mixture over everything in the pan.
- Cover and bake in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Casserole is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let sit 10 minutes, then cut and serve.
- You can do all except the baking the night before to make it easier in the morning. If you do, let the casserole sit out for about 30 minutes to an hour. The baking time will increase to about 2 hours if you put it in straight from the fridge.