Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easy taco casserole

This is another recipe that The Boy found, and again, from Facebook, I think.

We have been wanting to try this out and invited a few friends over to dinner to be our guinea pigs. It started out as a dinner party for 4 but turned out to be a dinner party for 6.

Even then, with generous portions for everyone, this served 6 people very comfortably, with at least one of my guests having seconds. We still had about 2 reasonable serves as leftovers after all the eating was done.

Here's the recipe.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 can pinto beans or Mexican style beans (original recipe: Ranch style beans)
  • 1 large bag tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (original recipe: Ro-tel tomatoes)
  • 1 cup diced jalapenos (not needed if you have Ro-tel tomatoes)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • sour cream and salsa for serving

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a large skillet, brown meat and drain off fat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, onion, taco seasoning, soup and water. Simmer over medium-low  heat until everything is well combined and heated through.
  • Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of crushed tortilla chips, followed by a layer of the meat/bean mixture, then half of the cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.
  • Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and salsa.

First thing to note, is that this is an American recipe, and I've modified the ingredients above a little bit for non-American people as well. I have included the "original recipe ingredient" in parenthesis so that you know what it was asking for, if you were from the US.

I mostly followed the recipe but I did make a few adjustments so that it was more to our taste.

I added a second packet of taco seasoning, just to give the flavor more depth.

I used Mexe-beans from Old El Paso as a replacement for Ranch style beans. If I had not found those, I would have just used pinto or kidney beans. I did not drain the beans as a lot of the seasoning was in the liquid that the beans were in.

With the tomatoes, I used a full can of diced tomatoes and also a cup of chopped up jalapenos to approximate the Ro-tel tomatoes after looking up what was in a can of Ro-tel tomatoes. I did not drain the tomatoes either.

After that, I pretty much followed the recipe to cook the taco filling.

One thing to note: you do need to cook it and let it simmer for a bit to thicken up and reduce as with not draining the beans and the tomatoes, you end up with a lot of liquid. I did not even need to use the 1/2 cup of water that the recipe called for.

Once that was cooked, I did the all important taste test, but found it a bit flat for my liking (I like my food spicy) and added a heaped teaspoon of hot chili flakes and one teaspoon of mild paprika, which really rounded out the flavor for me. Of course, you can skip this step if you do not like hot and spicy, although to me, this just added depth to the flavor rather than heat. None of our friends found it to be too spicy for them.

With regards to the tortilla chips, I did not use plain tortilla chips, because I'm a rebel that way. :-p Instead, I used the Doritos Tortilla chips in the Cheese Supreme flavor. My flavor of choice when it comes to using tortilla chips for anything like nachos and such.

Because I was having people over, I cooked the filling in advance and just before we were ready to eat, assembled and popped it into the oven. Since the filling had cooled down in the meantime, so it had to be in the oven a little longer than the recommended time. I had the casserole in the oven for about 40 minutes with the last 10 or 15 minutes set to 200°C and the foil taken off the top. Of course, this only applies if you had let the filling cool, like I had.

This is a super delicious dish. I served it with sides of homemade guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

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