How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is Cheese a Vegetable?

It may not be difficult to believe that I have already returned to our new super-market-checkout booklet Cooking with Beer, not even week after the terrific scallops-with-stout dish that was part of a recent very busy evening in our kitchen. Although the photo looks like mush, Pam and I were both pleased to notice Cerveza Chicken Enchilada Casserole on our first perusal. The result was a genuine guilty pleasure with Tex-Mex roots.

At the very beginning I altered the recipe slightly. It calls for small amounts of carrot and celery, but we had frozen tri-color bell peppers on hand, suggesting a substitution that would be both thrifty and more fitting. When we repeat this dish -- which clearly we will want to -- I will use bell peppers again, but also some hotter peppers. This dish is scrumptious except for a lack of piquancy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I brought one cup of Mexican beer and two cups of water to a boil, along with the veggies, a dash of salt, and the juice of one lime. I then added two chicken breasts and cooked through -- about 12 minutes. I forgot to let it cool before shredding the chicken -- in the pan -- with two forks.

Then I began to assemble the dish; the recipe calls for doing this in three rounds in a slow cooker, but it was getting close to dinner, so I used a casserole dish and just two rounds, each like this:

half a 10-ounce can of enchilada sauce -- half a 9-ounce bag of tortilla chips -- half the chicken mix -- a bit of chopped onion -- shredded cheddar cheese

REPEAT, then pour the rest of the bottle of beer over the whole thing.

The recipe mentions 3 cups of cheese, but I think I did a bit more. It calls for 4-5 hours in a crock pot, but I cooked at 350 in a convection oven for about 30 minutes, then cooled to 325 for about 15 minutes more. Crispy on the edges, bubbly on top, and delicious all over!

Perfect pairing for this dish, of course, is beer, Mexican if possible but our home-brewed English ale worked just fine. This dish makes particularly good leftovers, either heated through in the oven or microwaved in small batches.

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