Chicken Tortilla Casserole

When I saw this recipe in BBQ 4U, it "looked" good but, well, OK I’ll try it. Lucky us!

      I asked Laoise Pollison, (she had posted it on BBQ 4 U - see BBQ 4 U on my Favorite Places and Things page.) who lives in Los Angles but is an Irish Girl from NYC who never ate a tortilla in her life until she went to Graduate School in Anthropology. if I could include it here and she said:

      "Absolutely!   The beauty of this recipe is that you can fool with it - take some things away, add more of something and it still comes out well. I often put small dollops of sour cream in between the layers and add more cheese. The only way you can screw up is to not make enough of it since it is popular as leftovers.
         I made it first about a year ago when I had a bunch of leftover chicken. I wanted to make Tamale pie but I disliked having to cook the cornmeal before making a crust of it. Lazy bum that I am, I decided to soak tortillas in chicken stock and make it more like lasagna. one hour later - Chicken Tortilla Casserole was born."   

So, here it is.  Thanks Laoise.

2 to 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken. (maybe 2 to 3 breasts)
A bag of Small Corn Tortillas
Chicken broth or stock
1 - 28 ounce can of Rotel Diced tomatoes & chilies (or two small cans)
1 - 3.8 Ounce of sliced black olives, drained (about one full cup)
1 - 15 ounce can of black beans rinsed and drained
1 cup of finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if no cilantro on hand)
3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

In a separate pan, pour about a cup of the broth and then let a stack of tortillas soak in it for a few minutes.

Take an Oven safe baking dish ( a deep one) and spray with Pam. Then, pour a couple of ounces of chicken stock in it. Layer the corn tortillas on the bottom, letting them soak up the broth. Cut the tortillas to fit the pan. make seamless layer.   (I am lazier than she is, I didn't make a seamless layer. I just cut them in half so they'd fit the sides.)

Then, put a thin layer of the Rotel Diced tomatoes, followed by a sprinkling of the shredded chicken, a sprinkle of onions, a sprinkle of cilantro, a sprinkle of olives, a sprinkle of beans, and a light sprinkle of cheese.

Then remove some of the tortillas that have been soaking and make another seamless layer and repeat as above. Usually you get two or three layers of ingredients. Make sure you reserve at least one cup of the cheese to put on the top layer. When you get to the top layer of tortillas, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and then bake in a 350 Degree Oven for one hour. If you have leftover broth and feel the casserole could use the moisture, carefully add it before putting in to bake.

Casserole should have a crisp crust on top but have tender layers that are easy to cut through. About the onions - some folks prefer to sauté them before layering them. That helps eliminate some of the indigestion some folks might get from bulb vegetables.

VARIATION: add very small and conservative dollops of sour cream (or cream cheese) to each layer. I sometimes do that. You can also add green onions.

I (Carl) used more olives and cheese (lots more cheese)and may use more sautéed onions next time. Also, I had sour cream on top and sprinkled that with chopped green onions. Oh, I only got two layers in my 9 x 13 pan.