Many kids love Mexican food, so if that's the case at your casa, this easy and flavorful casserole is worth a try. It's chock-full of healthy ingredients — chicken, roasted sweet corn, black beans and brown rice — that create a nutritious and satisfying meal. Leftovers are great, too!
If time is short, use store-bought enchilada sauce and a rotisserie chicken instead of poaching the breasts (although the chicken can be cooked up to 2 days ahead of serving). This dish is also a great way to use leftover chicken or rice. It can be assembled up to 6 hours ahead of time and then popped in the oven just before dinner.
If your kids like to cook, they can help with many of the steps in this recipe. Enlist their creativity in rounding out the menu with other items to create a festive meal!
chicken stock (preferably a low-sodium variety)
boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed)
ears of fresh corn (or 2 cups Earthbound Farm Frozen Organic Sweet Corn, still frozen)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
whole wheat flour or corn tortillas (6-inch size)
cooked brown rice
black beans (15 oz, rained and rinsed)
mild or medium salsa
2 ½ cups
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
fresh cilantro (chopped, optional)
sour cream (optional)
1 ½ cups
tomato paste (6 oz)
unsweetened cocoa powder
garlic clove (peeled and finely minced)
Place the chicken stock in a large pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breasts. If the liquid doesn't cover the chicken, add enough water to just cover. Simmer the chicken, covered, until the meat is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the thickness of the breasts).
Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken by hand, placing the meat in a large bowl. Set aside.
If you're using fresh corn, shuck the ears, discarding the husks and silk. Rub the ears with some of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the corn over a medium barbecue, turning the ears as the kernels brown. Let cool, then cut the kernels from the cobs and set aside.
If you're using frozen corn, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
To make the enchilada sauce, place the water, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cocoa powder, garlic and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stack the tortillas and then cut them into thirds, creating three 2-inch wide strips per tortilla.
Add the rice, beans, salsa, 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 cup of cheese to the chicken in the bowl. Stir to blend.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish with some of the enchilada sauce. Arrange a layer of tortilla strips (side by side) on the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, then cover with another layer of strips. Spread more enchilada sauce over the tortilla strips to moisten them. Top with the roasted corn, and cover with another layer of strips. Spread the remaining chicken mixture and cover with a final layer of tortilla strips. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake the casserole until the mixture is bubbling hot and the cheese has melted and turned golden, about 30 minutes. Remove the enchilada pie from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
Serve with bowls of chopped cilantro and sour cream on the side, if you like.
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