25 April 2024

Enchilada Casserole - For Now or Later - Homemade Freezer Meals

Enchilada Casserole - For Now or Later - Homemade Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

It was time for Enchilada Casserole, and I thought "Why not make a bigger batch and have four meals out of it?" One for now and three for later. You know, I'm all about streamlining and am never happier than when my freezer is full of homemade freezer meals!

Since I'm usually cooking for two, I freeze two portions in my favorite 3-cup rectangular glass storage containers that are just the right size and shape for two pieces of anything you make in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish and cut into 8 pieces. You might need a different size container for the number of servings that make a meal in your house.

Enchilada Casserole - For Now or Later - Homemade Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

This casserole can be made with ground beef or chopped cooked chicken or whatever you like. For convenience, I used frozen chopped onions and canned green chiles.

I couldn't compromise on the sauce though, and homemade is really not that much trouble. It's a pretty basic and simple sauce that packs a lot of flavor. And you can adjust it however you like. If a canned sauce has too much of something for your taste, you can't do anything about it.

Do you love casseroles? My father did not like casseroles (or chicken or ground beef), so we never had them. I love them! 

Enchilada Casserole - For Now or Later - Homemade Freezer Meals / www.delightfulrepast.com

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(Makes 8 servings)

The Meat

1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces/680 grams) ground beef (I use organic grassfed 85% lean) 
OR 4 cups chopped cooked chicken, and omit the 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onions
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 4-ounce (113 grams) can diced mild green chiles

The Sauce

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) unsalted butter 
3 tablespoons (27grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) tomato paste 
3 cups (24 fluid ounces/710 ml) lower sodium chicken broth

The Casserole

12 ounces (340 grams) cheese, shredded (I use half jack and half medium cheddar)
9 6-inch white corn tortillas
4 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 In large skillet, cook the ground beef, breaking it up and browning it well. Remove the fat from the pan by your favorite means: covering pan with lid and draining it off, tilting the pan and spooning it out with a large metal spoon, or using a turkey baster. Then add the onions and salt, and cook for a few minutes. Then stir in the diced chiles. Remove from the heat. OR cook the onions in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, stir in the chopped chicken and chiles, and set aside.

2 In another skillet or saucepan, melt the butter and blend in the flour, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, and oregano. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the tomato paste until smooth and fragrant. Whisk in the broth. Bring the sauce to a simmer. When it begins to bubble, continue cooking and stirring for about 10 minutes, until sauce is thickening. Remove from the heat. 

3 Spread 1/3 cup (2.67 fluid ounces/79 ml) of the sauce in a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

4 Heat a griddle (my square griddle can cook 2 tortillas at a time), put 2 little 1/2 teaspoon puddles of oil (about the size of a quarter) on the hot griddle. When oil is hot, lay down the 2 tortillas and cook for about a minute, turning them several times. Repeat to lightly cook all 9 tortillas. Stack them neatly and cut in half. 

5 Dip each tortilla half in the sauce as you assemble the casserole. Place 4 halves with cut edges against the long sides of the baking dish and then 2 halves down the middle. Top the first layer of tortillas with 1/3 of the meat mixture, then 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Make second layer of tortillas, meat, and cheese. For the third layer, tortillas and meat, then pour over the remaining sauce, and top with cheese. 

6 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 30 minutes before cutting into 8 pieces. Place 2 pieces in each of 4 of my favorite 3-cup lidded Pyrex storage containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

7 When ready to serve, remove plastic lid and heat in microwave until heated through. Plate and garnish with sour cream, a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, or sliced green onions. Serve with Mexican RicePinto Beans or Refried Beans, and Broccoli Salad.

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