Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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Yield: Serves about 6-8


• Fire-roasted Tomato & Corn Sauce (recipe below)
• 8-10 corn tortillas (depending on pan size)
• 4 cups cooked rice
• 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie is great for this!)
• 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
• 2 cups corn kernels
• 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
• 2 cups whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded or grated
• 1 cup (heaping) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
• 2 cups Fritos-style corn chips, roughly crushed (I used Organic “Corn Chip Dippers” from Trader Joes)
• 1 tablespoon chopped green onion, for garnish


-Preheat the oven to 350°, and lightly mist a casserole or baking dish with cooking spray.

-Add about 1 ½ cups of the sauce to the bottom of the baking dish, and top with a layer of about 4 (or more) of the corn tortillas, overlapping them slightly and even cutting one or two half in order for them to fit snuggly and cover the bottom.

-Add about another 1 ½ cups of the sauce over the tortillas, and then half of the rice and then half of the shredded chicken; sprinkle on about half of the pinto beans and corn kernels, plus about half of the diced red Bellpepper, as well as about a third of the grated/shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

-Repeat the layering again by adding the remaining corn tortillas (overlapping), more of the sauce, the rest of the rice and then chicken, and the rest of the pinto beans, corn, and diced red bell pepper; sprinkle over another scant third of the cheese, and then sprinkle over the crushed corn chips, and then sprinkle over the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over that.

-Bake uncovered for about 35-40 minutes, until the cheese is melted and gooey; garnish with the green onions and serve with some of the leftover sauce on the side if someone would like extra.
Fire-roasted Tomato and Corn Sauce Ingredients:

• Canola oil
• 1 onion, diced
• Salt
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
• 2 cups corn kernels
• ¼ cup cilantro leaves
• 1 tablespoon honey


-Place a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the oil; once hot, add in the onion, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté it until it softens for a few minutes; then add in the cumin, the garlic and the chipotle, and stir those together allowing them to become aromatic.

-Add in the fire-roasted tomatoes, the corn, the cilantro, and the honey, and allow the sauce to gently simmer for only about 5-10 minutes; then check the seasoning and add more salt/pepper, if needed.

-Puree the mixture until fairly smooth; use immediately, or keep covered in fridge.