Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Toaster Oven - Enchilada Casserole

The loml (love of my life) and I do not have very large kitchens (yes, the plural is correct, although the loml and I live together we travel back and forth from one fairly tiny kitchen to another, each place just over an hour away from the other place -- one at the coast and one in the city in which I work).  Limited counter space for cooking means that we cannot indulge in every convenient appliance but we do have our favorites.
Looking for "multi-tasking" appliances we thought that a toaster-oven would not only serve as a toaster but also save us from heating up our big oven for small tasks. 
Oh dear! (our first reaction was stronger but I will remain G-rated), the toaster-oven makes lousy toast.  But it is great at baking, heating, and broiling small dishes.  So we now have two toaster-ovens and two toasters taking up beloved counter space.  But there is a huge savings in that we hardly need to use the big oven.  And we like good toast.  So it works.  However, to make it work better I should purchase baking dishes that easily fit into the toaster-oven. 
The following recipe is an example of good use of the baking and broiling functions of the toaster-oven but the final baking of the dish was done in the big oven only because the handles on my smaller Pyrex baking dish did not fit into the toaster-oven (I would have made 2 casseroles instead of the one I ended up with).
Enchilada Casserole a la Toaster-Oven

10 to 12 corn tortillas, cut in half
1 1/2 lbs. chicken meat - boneless thighs or breasts (increase the weight accordingly if you use bone-in meat)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 poblano chili
1 bunch green onions
1 11-oz can corn, drained
1 15-oz black beans, drained
1 4-oz can diced chilies
1 12-oz package Mexican fresh cheese (queso fresco) or farmer's fresh cheese or shredded jack cheese
2 14-oz cans red enchilada sauce (I prefer medium but you can choose mild or hot)

Line the toaster-oven pan with aluminum foil and arrange the chicken on the pan.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is just baked - be careful not to over bake the chicken.  Remove chicken to a large bowl to cool.  When chicken is cool shred into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, line the toaster-oven pan with another sheet of aluminum foil and spread the diced tomatoes and their liquid into the pan.  Raise the pan as high as possible and broil for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated and the tomato chunks begin to take on a bit of char. Remove from toaster oven and add to shredded chicken.
Place the poblano chili in the toaster-oven pan, on a piece of aluminum foil, as close to the broiler as possible.  Broil for about 15 minutes, turn the chili over and broil for another 10 minutes.  Remove the chili and wrap in a wet paper towel.  When cool, remove the charred skin, seeds, and stem.  Cut chili into 1/2 inch dice and add to chicken mixture.
Re-line pan with aluminum foil.  Cut dark green leaves and root ends from the green onions.  Spread the onions and the drained corn onto the toaster-oven broiler dish.  Broil the veggies for about 10 minutes or until some are browned but not burned.  Dice the onion and add onions and corn to the chicken mixture.
Add the drained beans and the canned chilies to the chicken mixture.  Mix in 2/3 of the queso fresco into the whole mixture.
Pour about 1/4 of a 14-oz can of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 13x7-inch pan and swirl to cover.  Arrange 1/2 of the tortillas (cut in half or quarters) to cover the bottom of the pan - overlapping the tortillas is good.  Pour the remainder of the first can of enchilada sauce over the tortillas.  Cover with the chicken and veggie mixture.  Cover the chicken mixture with the remaining tortilla slices.  Pour the second can of enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve with diced avocado and cream cheese as toppings.  The loml will require diced jalapeno chilies! (look for a future blog about the loml's addiction to hot, hot, hot!)

Because I don't have a casserole dish that fits into my toaster oven I had to finally heat up the big oven. (Guess what is on my gift list?)  Yes, there are a number of steps to making this dish - it is an energy saving dish, but not a quick meal but in some ways it is a time saver or maybe better yet, a "multi-tasker".  With enough big pans I could have broiled all of the veggies at once in the big oven but it might have taken more of my involved time to watch each veggie.  With the toaster-oven I was able to set the timer and go read a book which is a super plus in my mind and makes this recipe a "multi-tasker".  I'll stick to the toaster-oven method, thank you - because I love to read!

1 comment:

  1. I used your recipe as a guide for cook times in my toaster oven. I went with black beans, refried beans, and cheese in my enchiladas. I baked for 30 minutes in a 4x8 bread pan.