Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black Bean & Pork/Chicken Enchilada Cassarole with Ranchero Sauce

Looking for an excellent comfort food recipe with nourishing ingredients? Look no further. Don't let the long ingredient list keep you from trying this one. Most are the spices included to season the dish. Also, you could make your ranchero sauce in advance and freeze and then this would be a super quick and super easy meal to make.

About 1/2 pound cooked pork or chicken, diced -- use leftover if possible, and more or less than half a pound. You'll want enough for one layer
2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 cups water
1 small to medium onion chopped and divided (about 1/4 cup to sprinkle)
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups broth, low-sodium organic if possible (any flavor, I used vegetable)
1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp tomato paste, no added salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about one lime juiced)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups "Mexican-style" cheese, grated (I used a chipotle cheddar I found, but use whatever you can find in your store)
10-12 corn tortillas, the small ones
Olive oil

How To:
1. Prep Chilis: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the ancho chiles and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Boil, reduce heat to low and simmer five minutes. Turn off heat and let sit another 5 minutes. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Set aside.

2. Make Ranchero Sauce: Add onion to olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until soft, add garlic and salt. Cook another five minutes until lightly browned. Add broth, oregano, paste, and cumin. Cook about 5-8 minutes until thickened, stirring occassionally. Then pour entire pot into a blender, add chiles and reserved liquid. Blend until smooth (remove center piece in lid to allow steam to escape, but cover with a towel so the hot liquid does not splatter). Stir in lime juice and cayenne pepper. This is your ranchero sauce.

3. Make Cassarole: Using about 1/2 cup of the ranchero sauce, cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan and line with half the tortillas. Sprinkle on beans, chicken or pork, onions, and half the cheese. Cover with sauce, about half what you have left. Top with the remaining tortillas, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese. Cook uncovered about 15-20 minutes.

This is modified from a vegetarian dish in the October 2011 Cooking Light magazine. I added meat (for my husband) and we had this pork tenderloin to use up. I also eliminated the steps in the original recipe that made this actual enchiladas. The "cassarole-style" is much easier to make. We also served with sauteed poblano peppers on top and over short-grained brown rice and this was SO delicious.

This looks kind of complicated, and did take more time than I usually like to spend. The original recipe says 55 minutes hands on, but I think that is way over-stated and perhaps I save a lot of time with my version by not actually making enchiladas, but just layering the ingredients. I think it was 30 minutes hands on and then the 15 minutes of cooking. Also, the original recipe I followed says you can make the ranchero sauce a day or two ahead to save time (or even freeze), and that really is the part that takes up most of the time. I also keep a few containers of this ranchero sauce in my freezer for an easy dinner when we are short on time.

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