Monday, April 12, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

This recipe came from Rachel Ray, and I've done a bit of tweaking after making it a few times. Tweaking ... funny I would use that word.  My husband has a knack for nicknames, and he long ago dubbed Rachel "Stumpy McTweek."  Stumpy, for her stature.  Tweek, for her beyond-high-strung demeanor, which is nearly impossible to attribute to natural causes. It may be cruel, but it's accurate.  I understood the beauty of this moniker while watching "30 Minute Meals" with the TV on mute, as I could no longer stand the sound of her voice.  EVOO, YUMMO, JUST LET IT HANG OUT, OMFG I WANNA KILL YA.  So, Stumpy McTweak she is, forevermore. 

Hold on, no need to call the food police just yet.  Even Anthony Bourdain, one of my personal heroes, has his issues with Rachel Ray (google it). But as much as it pains me to admit, some of her recipes are good. Good. Not amazing. Not life-changing. Good. I've made a few things out of the original 30 Minute Meals cookbook and they weren't bad.  As much as I want to dislike Rachel, because she annoys the bejesus out of me, I can't help but appreciate a few of her recipes.  Mexican Lasagna is one of them.

This recipe includes one of my favorite foods, ground chicken.  I had never had ground chicken before a few years ago, at a Thai place.  It was sauteed with vegetables, in a really spicy sauce, and served over rice.  It was a revelation.  I've never cared for ground turkey; I find the texture gritty, and the flavor gamey and gross.  But ground chicken is delicious!  The simple, pure taste of chicken breast, but with a texture entirely unlike the chicken you're used to eating.  Sort of like ground beef, but filled with the righteous indignation of being HEALTHIER!  LEANER!  Ah yes, healthy righteousness. The best kind.

So I got on a kick with the ground chicken after eating it at the Thai place. Only one grocery store near me carried it on a regular basis, and until recently, it was priced pretty high when compared with chicken breasts.  So I got the notion to grind my own chicken.  It sounds sorta crazy, until you consider the fact that I own a Kitchen Aid.  One of the best kitchen appliances of all time.

Hear the angels singing?

The Kitchen Aid was a gift from my mother several years ago.  I've used it to make a myriad of things, including my cheesecake.  I purchased a meat-grinding attachment for the mixer and I've been grinding my own chicken ever since.  I save a few pennies, maybe not enough to make the grinder pay for itself, but I GRIND MY OWN MEAT!  How cool is that, in this day and age?  It's pretty frickin' cool, I tell ya.  I can buy chicken breasts on sale, and then grind them at my leisure.  And I know exactly what is in that ground chicken, because I ground it myself.  I love it.

You want the chicken to be partially frozen as it will grind more easily.  Slice it into long, thin strips.

To me, that's the most interesting part of this recipe, it was the impetus for me learning to grind my own chicken.  It's a good casserole.  It's great for a potluck.  It's perfect to take to a friend who is home on bed-rest, before she gives birth to what is sure to be a ridiculously cute baby. =)  It was fun and easy to make, and there's lots of room to improvise.  I'm looking forward to all the other things I can make with ground chicken. Tacos. Chili. Lettuce Wraps. Have fun with this one, I sure am.

Assemble the ingredients.

Grease the pan.

Brown the chicken, onions and garlic with the spices.

Add the beans, corn, tomatoes and hot sauce.

And cook until it looks like this.

Slice some good tortillas.

Assemble the casserole; meat mixture, tortillas, cheese.




Mexican Lasagna by Bonzo Bean, ala Rachel Ray, a.k.a. Stumpy McTweek

See Rachel Ray's original recipe here.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T  ground cumin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup medium heat taco sauce
  • 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 3-4 cups shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • Garnish with hot sauce and sour cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 T olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Brown chicken with onions, garlic and spices 5-8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, hot sauce, beans and corn.  Cook about 10 minutes more.

Cut torillas into quarters.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Build the casserole in layers; meat mixture, tortillas, cheese.  Repeat.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Serve and garnish as desired.


  1. Awww, thanks so much for bringing this over. I appreciate it more than you know. And it is so yummy without feeling like it's a million calories. And as far as having a ridiculous cute baby, well, we'll see. For all we know I could pop out the hunchback of Notre Dame. =)

  2. I may make this on the weekend. Looks really good!! Of course, I'll have to figure out some substitute for corn and make sure I remove seeds from tomatoes!! Still, it should be good!!

  3. @ Charlotte, you could just use bottled taco sauce for the liquid then and skip the canned tomatoes if you wanted. Rachel's original recipe calls for either/or. As long as it's a taco sauce you like, because you'd need 2+ cups. As a substitute for corn you could do diced red and green bell peppers. If you try it let me know!

  4. Stumpy McTweek! That's hysterical... because it's *true.*

  5. It looks yummy!! How about a substitute for chicken?

  6. Hi there, ? did the totillas dry out? Your Wine Guy

  7. @ Barb, If the goal is something other than chicken, ground beef or turkey would work. If the goal is a vegetarian dish, I think you could try those soy crumbles they sell in the freezer section. Or you could use more black beans, kidney beans, bell peppers... But I worry it might be mushy without the chicken's texture... Hmmm, tough question.

    @ Wine Guy, HI! =) The tortillas didn't dry out. When I made this recipe the first time, according to Rachel's directions, I used Mission spinach tortillas. It was good, but the layers were more delicate, and the tortillas broke down in the middle of the dish. The tortillas pictured here are fresh, and they were sturdier. Next time I might top them with a bit of extra hot sauce though. They would hold up to it, and I like hot sauce.

  8. Please to be posting again. Hungry bellies need inspiration for dinner.

  9. @ktothet, thanks for letting me know you're out there reading! A new post is in the works and should be published within a week. Spring cleaning got the better of me this weekend! =)

  10. Hi, I’m planning on making this recipe this week! I’m just wondering wether I’m supposed to use the thick canned coconut milk or the thinner stuff from the carton? If someone could help me out I’d be really grateful, thank you! Pickup Lines Google Gravity Tricks I love you quotes Good Night Quotes