Many, many years ago (I believe I was in junior high at the time), my family stumbled upon a casserole recipe that we’ve used ever since. We call it Mexican chicken, even though we often make it with beef and it’s about as Mexican as Taco Bell. My brother, at some point, dubbed the beef version Tijuana Meatloaf.
We are not very P.C. in my family.
Anyway, whatever you call it, the casserole made for a cheap, easy, tasty, filling meal. It’s perfect for those nights when you don’t want to cook; if your meat is precooked, it’s just throw and go! But the best thing about this recipe? It has endless variations.
The original recipe calls for:
- 1# diced, cooked chicken
- ¾ of a bag of nacho cheese Doritos
- 1 small can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 small can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- Shredded cheddar
Originally, I think you were supposed to mix the chicken, tomatoes, and soup and layer it with the chips. We just crush the chips, mix up everything but the shredded cheese, and top with the cheese. Then you heat it up. You can throw it in the over, or you can microwave it (all you’re trying to do is heat everything through and melt the cheese). Easy peasy. Obviously, you can use a pound of cooked ground beef in place of the chicken. You can trade out kinds of soup, of course, or types of cheese. You could even use diced tomatoes without the chilies, or those with Italian or other seasonings. Or substitute homemade or jarred salsa.
But here’s the thing. Almost anything is possible with this recipe.
- My sister made it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, plain tortilla chips, and homemade salsa along with the mushroom soup.
- Last night, I made it with chicken, 1 can of nacho cheese soup, one small can of cheap, off-brand enchilada sauce, and plain tortilla chips, topped with shredded cheddar. Cheddar cheese soup would have also been good. Or, if I’d used more chicken and chips, I could have added some sour cream to the mix. Yum!
- I also decided that nacho cheese Doritos with leftover brisket, pulled pork, or chicken (shredded), BBQ sauce would be good. Maybe with a can or cheddar cheese soup and some sour cream.
- If you’re worried about the carbs in the chips (but not the other horrendously bad-for-you ingredients), you could probably make this with pork skins or veggie chips.
- Since we discovered this recipe, Campbell’s soup has released a great many kinds of “cream of” soups. The current line-up includes: chicken, mushroom, beefy mushroom, asparagus, broccoli, broccoli-cheddar, celery, chicken with herbs, mushroom with roasted garlic, onion, potato, shrimp, cheddar cheese, and nacho cheese. That’s a lot of possibilities! When you add in all the varieties of tortilla (and other) chips available, all the many kinds of cheeses, and various meats, the variations really are endless.
- You can add other things. Garnish with lettuce and tomato. Throw in some olives, roasted red peppers, or sauteed veggies. Add herbs and spices.
Experiment, and enjoy!