I adore casseroles. A big pan of mixed goodness and usually only one dish to wash.
But I’m not such a fan of the fact that casseroles (at least the ones I love) are usually laden with cheeses and cream-of-something soups. Perhaps it will be my mission in 2013 to create lighter versions of some of the foods I love best. It’s often not hard to reduce fat and calories in a recipe. You can often reduce the amount of cheese called for by at least half. Instead of creamy bases, use broth and thicken it with a bit of cornstarch. Certain vegetables, when pureed, also thicken a soup or cream sauce instead of adding extra fat. Increasing the spices adds more flavor without adding any extra calories.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/3 cup (3 oz) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups chopped onion, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs chopped, pickled jalapeño pepper
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425° F.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven; bake at 425° F for 10 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; shred. Discard bones. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, corn, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) to chicken; toss to combine.
Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion mixture to chicken mixture; stir to combine.
Combine remaining 1 1/2 cups onion, remaining 3 garlic cloves, broth, salsa, 1/4 cup water, and jalapeño in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a blender; add 2 tablespoons cilantro. Process until smooth.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tortillas; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove tortillas from pan; repeat procedure with remaining tortillas. Cut tortillas into quarters.
Spread 1/2 cup salsa mixture in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 12 tortilla quarters over salsa mixture. Spoon half of chicken mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining salsa mixture over tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Top with remaining cilantro.
Nutritional Information: Calories: 371, Fat: 12 g, Protein: 23 g, Carbohydrate: 45 g, Fiber: 5 g, Cholesterol: 80 mg, Iron: 2 mg, Sodium: 759 mg, Calcium: 141 mg