Baked Tortilla Skillet with Chicken, Black Beans, and Peppers
What’s funny about this no-roll baked tortilla skillet shebang is I didn’t mean for it to appear during what I think of as Tex-Mex, or football, season. I invented the recipe – a means of eating an enchilada-like meal without actually rolling up a dozen or more tubes of filled tortillas – to be one of those smart shortcuts you take when you want to eat a decent meal, one with some vegetables and without copious amounts of refined carbs or cheese, but you’re on a little bit of a time budget.
When you cook layered foods, each layer has to be just right: seasoned aggressively but not overwhelmingly. Here, I started with the sauce, making a tomato-based enchilada sauce flavored with both a fresh habanero and a dried chile de arbol.
Next, I crisped up the tortillas in a pan with oil. This helps solidify their texture, helping them hold up the layers above them without caving into nothing.
For the filling, I used chicken roasted with spices and green peppers, then mixed with hearty black beans.
And finally, for cheese, I opted for shredded cheddar, though not a whole lot. If you want this skillet to have more richness, you can layer cheese in between every layer, not just on top.
And about it being Tex-Mex Season? Well, this could definitely be part of a spread during the game, though I do think it needs a fork (it’s not exactly this or this or this), or if you’re planning a cozier, less party-filled Sunday, maybe just for two, that still respects the need to eat cheesy, slightly junky cuisine of the weekend, choose this. And then, if you like the idea, I figure you can make it again and again, as I have been, with different fillings and sauces and cheese amounts.
- 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 can black beans
- 2 green peppers
- juice of half a lime
- One 14-ounce can tomatoes
- 1 cup veggie or chicken broth
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, left whole
- 1 habanero
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 chili de arbol, broken up (optional)
- 12 small corn tortillas
- ⅔ cup grated cheddar
- ½ avocado, sliced
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken and peppers on a baking sheet. Toss them with chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, plus the oil and salt. Bake for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. When done, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, combine the chicken and peppers, along with any juices, with the beans and ½ teaspoon salt, the lime juice, and a drizzle more of oil if it needs richness.
- Heat a medium, oven-safe skillet over high heat. Pour in about ¼ inch of oil, and let that heat up for another minute. Cook the tortillas until softened but not crisp, 30 seconds per side. Place them on a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside. Pour out all but a tablespoon or two of the oil, enough to generously film the bottom.
- In the same pan used for crisping the tortillas, turn the heat to medium-high. Add the onion and garlic to the oil, and cook for 1 minute, until soft and just a little brown. Add the flour, stirring to distribute, then pour in the tomatoes and broth and simmer, partly covered, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, especially around the edges. Let the sauce cool for a few minutes, then transfer to the blender and blend until emulsified and smooth. The sauce will lighten in color to a pretty pink. Taste for salt, adjusting as needed. Pour ⅓ cup back into the skillet and set aside.
- Top the sauce in the pan with three overlapping tortillas, then half of the chicken-black bean filling, then ⅔ cup sauce, a layer of tortillas (about 4), the other half of the filling, ⅔ cup sauce, another layer of tortillas (again, about 4), and then the rest of the sauce. Finally, sprinkle on the cheese.
- Bake the skillet for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and melty. Rest for 5 minutes, then serve in wedges or squares.