Do you love Mexican food and casseroles as much as I do? When I combine the two, I am in heaven. Last night I made this beautiful Gluten Free Chicken Enchilada Casserole and boy oh boy was it good – I can’t wait for leftovers!
This casserole has the flavors and ingredients that you would normally find in enchiladas, but it is deconstructed. You create layers of torn corn tortillas, chopped cooked chicken, shredded cheese, and a luscious sauce and then bake it. So simple. When I was at #IFBC in #Sacramento, we went to #Mother Restaurant for dinner and had a delightful dish of Chile Colorado. They had sprinkled corn nuts over the top and I fell in love! They are a great way to add crunchy texture to otherwise fairly soft dishes. And bonus, they are gluten-free!
The first night I served this, it was hot from the oven and rather soupy. I adjusted the recipe so yours will have less liquid. Once it cooled, it was more solid. With the resting, the tortillas absorbed more of the liquid. It was delicious both ways and would be great made ahead for a quick mid-week dinner.
I roasted two chickens a few days ago, one to serve for dinner that night and the other to use in this recipe. It is just as easy to roast two as it to cook one! Roasting chicken yourself saves a lot of money and is super simple. Think about doing this the next time you are planning on serving chicken for dinner.
If you roast whole chickens, you don’t have to pay for the labor involved in deboning and the meat is more tender, moist and fully flavored. So much better than using boneless pieces. Save some money and buy a whole chicken for your next dinner. You’ll be delighted at how little work it is and so delicious!
BONUS: Once you are done breaking down the chicken, put the carcass and any extra bones, skin, fat, etc. in a tall stock pot. Cover it with fresh water, add a quartered onion, a few carrots and celery stalks, some salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour or so. Voila! You have homemade chicken stock!
The homemade cream of chicken soup was incredibly easy to make and tastes much better than the canned varieties. Once I added the ingredients to make the sauce for the casserole, it tastes like a creamy tomato soup. You can puree any cooked vegetables you like and stir the puree in to bump up the flavor and create a “Cream of XX” soup. How fun! Because you are thickening milk with cornstarch, the soup has a lot less fat in it than regular creamy soups. And yes, you can use low fat (I wouldn’t recommend non-fat) milk! There’s no going back for me, I’ll be using this recipe all winter long for creamy, luscious homemade soups!
I hope you pull out your 9×13-inch pan soon and make this casserole for your family. I promise the aromas coming from the oven will bring everyone running, salivating as they wait for dinner to be ready!
Have a wonderful weekend – see you again for Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You can easily roast your own chicken or use a rotisserie chicken cooked by your local grocer. If all you have on hand are cut up pieces of chicken, those work too. I prefer cooking whole chickens for more flavor and to spend less money.
Here’s a trick for deboning chicken … Try to take the meat off the bones while it is still warm. It releases much more easily, making it a snap to do. If you are using a rotisserie chicken from the store, do the same thing. Wait until it is cool enough to handle comfortably and pull it apart. Then use a small paring knife to cut it away from any remaining bones and watch out for tough pieces of cartilage and toss them with the bones.
There are tons of Tex-Mex style recipes on the web for layered casseroles and this is quite similar, but if you need to eat gluten-free like I do, I have included a homemade version of the canned soup called for in many of the recipes. Make the soup and cook the chicken a day or two ahead and it will be quick and easy to assemble this recipe when you are ready to bake and serve it.
As always, keep an eye on labels looking for hidden sources of gluten. Many tortillas include wheat, so be sure you get a gluten-free variety.
Kitchen Skills: Freezing Homemade Chicken Stock
Cool the stock, strain out the solids, ladle into resealable plastic bags and seal them with as little air as possible inside. Lay them flat on a baking sheet and slip the sheet into the freezer. When you freeze them this way, it is simple to stack them. Pull one or two out when you need stock for a recipe or to make soup. It’s delicious!
- Vegetable oil, for brushing the pan
- 1 medium onion, trimmed, peeled and diced
- 2 (10-3/4 oz) cans cream of chicken soup or for gluten-free, make the homemade version below
- 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 (14.5 oz) can (2 cups) chopped tomatoes, strained
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves (use parsley if you don't care for cilantro)
- 3 tbsp chopped mild green chiles, or more to taste
- 2 tsp ancho chile powder or regular chili powder
- 1 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 18 (8-inch) corn tortillas, gluten-free if needed, torn or cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 (3 lb) roasted chicken, deboned and chopped
- 2 cups (8 oz) grated Mexican-blend cheeses (or half cheddar and half Monterey Jack blended together)
- Sour cream
- Minced chives or green onions
- Sprigs of cilantro or parsley
- Salsa, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil, being sure to coat the sides as well as the bottom.
- Place the chopped onions in large saucepan with 1 tbsp of oil and saute over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same saucepan stir together the soup, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, chiles, ancho, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic. Warm over medium or medium-low, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Put half of the tortilla pieces in the bottom of the prepared baking pan, top with 1/2 of the chicken and 1/2 of the onions. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese mix. Pour 1/2 of the soup mixture over the top, and repeat the layers with the remaining tortilla pieces, remaining chicken, remaining onions, 1/3 of the cheese, and remaining soup mix. Finish with the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes, until heated through, the cheese has melted, and the top has browned slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
- Scoop into serving bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chives. Tuck a couple of pieces of cilantro into the sour cream. Serve with salsa on the side.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 2 cups cold milk
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tsp gluten-free chicken base, demi glace, or chicken bouillon granules
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
- 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley (loosely filled, not packed)
- In a medium saucepan slowly add the cornstarch to the milk, whisking until fully dissolved with no lumps. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. (Watch out for hot splashing bubbles!) Pull off the heat and add the butter, base or demi glace, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the butter is fully melted and the sauce is creamy and smooth. Stir in the chicken and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside if using immediately or cover and refrigerate for use in the next few days.
- Yield: equivalent to 2 cans condensed soup
- Variation: Add a 4 oz can of mushroom pieces, drained, in place of the chopped chicken to make Cream of Mushroom Soup.
Create a New Tradition Today!
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