Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Recipe: Taco Casserole

A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible really know what goes in it. – Author unknown

Tacos in casserole form! Far less messy, to be sure...
Here’s a recipe that doesn’t take too much hands-on time so if you’re busy with other tasks this may be one to consider. It takes little prep, and then bakes in the oven. In truth, I made this recipe to use up some ingredients I had on hand. Isn't that the true forté of a casserole?

Imagine all the flavours of tacos, but in layered form – like a lasagna. This is based on a few recipes I saw for inspiration and some common sense. For example there are no pre-packaged ingredients; no mushroom soup, no taco seasoning mix, etc. In other words, no “shortcuts.”

Layer the ingredients much like a lasagna.
I have this “thing” about recipes that include “cans of this” and “packets of that.” First, they’re loaded with salt and second, they’re usually so easy to replicate.

Take mushroom soup for instance. What’s in it? Basically mushrooms and cream, some salt and some pepper. Why not use the real ingredients?

Taco seasoning is another one. You can buy a packet for close to $2 that seasons one batch of meat or make it from your spice cabinet. Main ingredients? Chilli (or cayenne), cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. I would imagine the amounts I use cost far less than $2 – maybe 50¢. Probably 25¢.

I should apologize to any readers from Mexico or even the Southern USA because this is about as far from anything “taco-like” you can find, although this is still delicious.

There’s not really a lot more to say about this recipe. It’s the flavours of taco in a different form. I hope you enjoy it – I imagine kids would. It is a filling treat!

Serves 4 with ease, maybe even 6.
Taco Casserole
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook 30-40 min  |  Serves 4-6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chopped
250g mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups hot salsa
7 medium flour tortillas
375 ml (1-1/2 cups) sour cream
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350°F. Chop the tortillas into 1” squares and set aside

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté the onions, sweet pepper, garlic and mushrooms until softened. Add the ground beef, spices, salt and pepper and stir until the beef is no longer pink. Pour in 1/2 cup of the salsa and cook until the mixture is dry.

Mix the sour cream with 2 cups of cheese in a bowl. Reserve the remaining cup of cheese for on top.

To assemble, place a little additional oil in a deep 8” x 8” oven-proof pan. Coat the bottom well. Add 1/3 of the tortillas and spread them out fairly evenly, then 1/2 of the meat, and on that 1/2 of the cream/cheese mixture.

Repeat with 1/3 tortillas, remaining meat and remaining cream/cheese mixture. Top with the final 1/3 of the tortillas.

Pour the last 1 cup salsa on top and sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup of cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and slightly browned.

Serve with a side of Spanish rice or a salad. With the amount of sour cream in this you may as well have the rice. In for a penny, in for a pound...


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