Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creamy Poblano-Tortilla Casserole

What's your favorite kind of vacation? Do you like to relax all day? Visit a new city? An action packed adventurous trip?

While I love island and beach vacations, I'm not a fan of sitting on the beach all day. I can take a few hours of it here and there, especially at the pool when there is a swim-up bar, but I'd much rather get out and explore, eat where the locals eat, and bar-hop around the island (oh how I miss St. John for that!!). Luckily my husband has the same vacation philosophy, so we have taken some great trips together.

My best vacation memories usually revolve around food, and two of my favorite food destinations (besides Vegas), have been in Mexico. Every time we make Mexican food at home, we reminisce about the Love Shack in Cabo - a family run "dive bar" with grandmom cooking in the kitchen (literally, the family's grandmother was in the kitchen cooking all of the food... amazing food!). And then there were the street tacos in Playa del Carmen - I could eat them every day and dream of going back just for those tacos. And how could I forget breakfast on the water in Cabo while watching the whales migrate - of course chilaquilies were on my plate. See, it always comes back to food. I may not remember what we learned on a tour, but I sure as hell could tell you where we ate that day and what we had.

I've recreated a lot of these dishes at home, but still have chilaquilies on my "must make soon" list. As soon as I saw Josie's post for this Creamy Poblano-Tortilla Casserole and read through the ingredients and directions, I knew it would satisfy by chilaquilies craving. Crisp tortilla chips softened by a savory cheesy sauce and packed full of peppers, tomatoes and onions? Yes, please.

This dish can take some time to pull together, but that's probably because I made it all at once (and the three year old was a bit crazy this afternoon so I did have to step away from the stove a few times). You could certainly do some prep earlier, like make the chips or roast the peppers. Alternatively, you could buy your own corn tortilla chips, but honestly there's nothing like chips made from soft corn tortillas.

Whatever you do, just make this. The flavors took me right back to Cabo, the cheese sauce was creamy and salty and gooey, the filling was bright yet slightly spicy, and the chips were soggy in the best possible way. As soon as I had my first bite I decided that I'd be eating seconds, and then I'd have the rest alongside some scrambled eggs the next morning. And that's exactly what I did. I think I'd even make this one again JUST to be able to have it the next day for breakfast! Think deconstructed huevos rancheros.

 Josie, thank you so much for making and sharing this recipe!

Creamy Poblano-Tortilla Casserole
Source:  Pink Parsley (originally adapted from Gourmet Today)

Filling Ingredients
  • 9 (6- to 7-inch) corn tortillas
  • 3/4  pound poblano chiles, roasted and peeled (about 3 large poblano peppers)
  • 2  Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2  cups chopped white onions
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 1  (14- to 15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Sauce and Topping Ingredients
  • 2  Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2  Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated  Monterey Jack cheese 
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1/4  tsp pepper


Toast the tortilla wedges: Put racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Stack tortillas and cut into 8 wedges. Spread tortilla triangles in one layer on two large baking sheets and bake, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until crisp and pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool tortillas, and leave the oven on.
Prepare the chiles: Open chiles and spread flat; discard seeds and stems and cut out ribs. Cut chiles lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Reserve about 1/4 cup for garnish, and roughly chop those strips into small pieces.

Make the filling: Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions, jalapeño, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, tomatoes with juice, and remaining poblano strips and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.
Make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over  medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream, whisking, and continue to cook and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until cheese is melted, then add salt and pepper.

Assemble and bake: Arrange half of the tortillas in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Spoon filling evenly over top. Cover with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over tortillas (tips of tortillas will stick up) and sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese and reserved poblanos.  Bake, uncovered, in the upper third of oven until gratin is bubbling and top is golden, about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.


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