Taco Casserole

Sigh. I miss the one that used to come in a blue box. And one day, it just disappeared, and I have missed it ever since. I’m not a “box” kind of cook, but I have spent a good amount of time over the past 15 years trying to recreate that Taco Casserole — with the tortilla chips that would practically break your teeth. Here is my current version:

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced (about 3 Tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I use 1 pepper)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
5 cups tortilla chips, broken into pieces
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (1 cup)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the broiler and adjust rack to about 6 inches from heating source.

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a 10-inch oven safe skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the chicken and cook on both sides until golden-brown, 5-7 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth and scrape of browned bits, and bring to a simmer.

Stir in half the tortilla chips. Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium low heat until cooked through (reading 160 on a thermometer), about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and when cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomato, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1 Tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and broil until the cheese is melted and browning, 2-3 minutes. Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing casserole to cool 5 minutes.

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