Minnesota Cooking: Mexi Lasagna
It was Friday morning and I decided to make chili, so I headed down to the basement and got a package of frozen hamburger and a package of frozen portabello mushroom ends and brought them upstairs to the kitchen.
I usually freeze my hamburger so, the easiest way to brown it, is to take the frozen lump of burger, and cook from frozen. I put it in my frying pan, add a cup of water and cover. Put the heat on medium low and every few minutes, scrape the slightly cooked burger off the bottom and flip it over. You continue flipping and scraping in this manner until all the burger is all cooked.
Spur of the Moment
So. Now, I've got my burger cooking and I start another pan with some butter and I diced some celery and onion and some sweet peppers and start to cooking them to soften the celery and caramelize the onions. I put my bag of mushrooms into the microwave and heated on high for 2 minutes to thaw them.
Here's where the problem begins.
At this point, I opened my pantry door to look for the rest of the chili ingredients. I was specifically looking for my two cans of chili hot beans. Okay. Soup, soup, peaches, cream of mushroom - where the heck are my chili hot beans?
Are they on a different shelf? No.
I rummaged and moved cans around. Nope. Just soup.
Okay. I need those chili hot beans to make the chili and I do not have them.
Okay. Now I feel like I am on one of those cooking shows where you get a bunch of ingredients and you have to come up with something.
I had an enchilada casserole at lunch on Tuesday. The lunch wagon brought this amazing, tortilla layered lasagna and it seemed fairly simple and delicious.
So, I looked in my refrigerator and found some flour tortillas, and looked in the freezer and found a bag of shredded Colby cheese. Back to the pantry and got a couple cans of Chicken Chili and a box of Zatarans Black Bean Rice mix and a package of brown gravy.
So now, I've got the Zatarans Black Beans and Rice and mushrooms added to the celery, peppers and celery and they are simmering for 25 minutes.
I have my hamburger browned and I add the brown gravy mix with a cup of cold water. I didn't even drain my hamburger. In all the excitement, I forgot to.
What a day.
Two Cans of Soup
I opened up the two cans of Chicken Chili soup and added them to the hamburger mix. Oh. I forgot to mention that I salted my hamburger with some Lawry's seasoned salt during the thawing process.
So now, I have two pans going. One with the rice mixture cooking and simmering and one with the hamburger mixture simmering.
Don't forget to stir the hamburger, because now the extra ingredients in the soup will stick to the bottom if you don't stir. I found that out... turn the heat down.
I put a little butter on the bottom of a 9 x 13 cake pan and decided to make layers with the flour tortillas. Mind you, I'm still in chili mode and I've got to improvise as I go along.
Open the tortillas and use one round one and cut one in half. Put the round one in the middle of the baking dish and put the two cut tortillas with the flat sides to the pan. That's how they did it where I work, so that's how I did it. Makes the edges nice and flat.
Merge - Merge - Merge
The most important thing that I found with this is everything needs to merge before you put it in the baking dish.
The merging is complete when the rice is done, so I used that 25 minutes it took to cook the rice as my simmering time for the hamburger mix.
Tortillas in Pan
Butter on bottom, first layer of tortillas in.
Now, I put half of the hamburger mix on the tortillas and half of the rice mix on the hamburger mix and sprinkled some frozen Colby shreds across the hamburger.
I took a round tortilla and put it on the center and added my two cut tortillas to the edges.
Then, poured the rest of the rice mix and hamburger mix and some more cheese, topped with another set of flour tortillas.
Then, I sprinkled some cheese across the top for color.
My cake pan has a cover, but I decided to use aluminum foil to cover the pan. I sat the cake pan on a flat baking sheet, just in case this culinary monstrosity decided to bubble over the sides of the pan.
Why? Because I don't like to clean my oven and boil overs would create a mess to clean up. You can decide for yourself if you want to use a baking sheet under your cake pan. It probably isn't necessary and I do not know if would change your baking process.
300 degrees for two hours.
I'm calling attention to the fact that I set my oven at 300 degrees because the stuff was already merged and I just wanted everything to soak into the flour tortillas.
It worked good. Close to the end of two hours, the flour tortillas on the top were starting to puff up and the cheese was almost merging with the tortilla.
It Was Delicious
Yep. It was a success.
My husband started to eat it and he looked at me after the first bite and he told me that it was really good. I said that I invented the recipe on the fly. He also asked if I wrote the recipe down, since he wanted me to make sure that I made it again sometime. I said, yes, I even took pictures as I cooked it. For you, dear reader... [smile]
Then, I admitted about the chili hot beans. He looked confused and said 'we were out of chili hot beans?' When did that happen? When did we have chili that we would have used them up?
I said, I don't know. I could have sworn that there were some in there. I looked, but perhaps I overlooked them. Oh, well. This stuff tastes pretty good, anyways..