Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey Poblano Casserole

I made this for dinner tonight.

I saw this recipe on Cathy's blog The Noble Pig. It looked so irresistible that I knew I would make it as I scrolled down the page. She found the recipe in Cooking Light Magazine. Great! Delicious and healthy. Yay! She wrote this about the casserole, "If you don't have a few hours to prepare this during the week, make it on the weekend and use it for leftovers or lunches during the week." A few hours! It's a casserole for heaven's sake! I figured that I could turn it out a little faster, I even took a few shortcuts. I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey so I didn't have to cook the chicken and steam-in- the-bag Southwestern style corn rather than broiling it myself and cutting it from the cob. Still, by the time that I roasted and skinned my peppers, made the sauce, chopped the onion, green onion, cilantro, and turkey, and assembled the whole thing, it took 3 hours (including the baking time)! Thank goodness it was every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be and a huge hit with my whole family! You'll have to look at the pictures over at Noble Pig. They're gorgeous!

To begin, I halved and seeded the poblano and red bell peppers and then placed them on a baking sheet lined with foil to broil. Following the directions, I flattened them slightly with my hand. This is the first time I've cooked with the poblano pepper. It's supposed to be a relatively mild chile pepper. Because I thought that it would be mild, I didn't wear gloves when working with these peppers. Big mistake! My hands were burning! Once I felt the burn on my hands, I thought that I'd better taste test one to make sure that it wouldn't be too spicy to serve to my family. I cut off a little piece o' pepper and touched it to my tongue. WOW! Feel the burn, baby. Feel the BURN! It was spicy. So much for mild. I googled the poblano tonight after the dinner dishes were washed and put away and this is what I found on Wikipedia: The poblano is a relatively mild chile pepper originating in the State of Puebla, Mexico. Dried, it is called an ancho chile. While poblanos tend to be mild, occasionally and unpredictably a poblano can have significant heat. Indeed, different peppers from the same plant have been reported to vary substantially in heat intensity. Okay, so I guess I got a hot one. Luckily with all of the other ingredients in the casserole, the heat was very subtle. My kids didn't seem bothered at all. My hands though, they're a different story. My left thumb burned for 4 hours just from contact sustained during cutting and seeding. The recipe called for 3 poblanos and 1 red bell pepper, but I had only picked up two poblanos at the store and I already had red peppers in the fridge that needed to be used, so I went with two of each.

Broil the peppers for at least 10 minutes until the skins turn black and blistery. I used the low setting on my broiler. These needed about 30 minutes to get to this point. Just enough time for me to mop and dry my kitchen floor. Perfect...

You need to let them sit and cool for 10 minutes or so. You can put them into a zip top baggie, as recommended by the recipe, but I just sealed them tightly in the foil from the baking sheet. I hate to part with my baggies. I seem to run out too quickly.

The skins should easily part from the flesh of the peppers. I like to use the edge of my chef's knife to get them started.

Now transfer the peeled, roasted peppers to a food processor or blender. According to the recipe, I was supposed to use only poblanos in the sauce. The red peppers should have been chopped and combined with the corn, onion, cilantro, etc. I knew that if my picky child found a chunk of red pepper in her dinner, she'd flip. So, to incorporate that roasted red pepper flavor into my dish without listening to complaints (and gagging noises) I added them to the food processor. If she can't see them, they're not there, right?

Now, to begin the sauce: measure 1/3 cup of flour and combine with salt and pepper in a skillet or saucepan.

Slowly stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk until smooth. No lumps, now! If you begin with a small amount of milk and stir to make a paste and then add the remainder of the milk gradually, you're less likely to develop lumps.

Now, cook and stir that milk and flour mixture over medium heat until thickened. The recipe recommends about 12 minutes. That's pretty accurate.

Now pour 1 cup of the thickened milk into the peppers in the food processor. Puree.

Stir the pureed pepper mixture back into the rest of the sauce. Salt and pepper again to taste.

In a bowl combine red onion, cilantro, corn, 1 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese, 2 eggs, sour cream, and salt. It was supposed to be ricotta instead of sour cream, but when I popped open the tub of ricotta from the back of my fridge, I found that it looked more like a science experiment than something I'd actually eat. Yikes!

You still need to chop the chicken or turkey...oh yeah, and the green onions (which I forgot to photograph.)

Okay, so now I'm over two hours into the preparation of this casserole and I'm just now ready to assemble the thing! Here are the components, 18 white corn tortillas, chopped green onion, chopped cooked turkey, red onion-cilantro-cheese-egg-corn-sour cream mixture, poblano-red pepper sauce, and additional shredded cheese.

You start the assembly by spraying the bottom of a 9 X 13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Then spread 1/2 cup of the pepper sauce on the bottom of the dish. Top with 6 corn tortillas, over-lapping them so that they fit. Now pile on half of the corn mixture and spread it evenly over the tortillas.

Top with half of the turkey, 2/3 cup of shredded cheese, and 1/3 cup of green onions. Do you see the top left-hand corner that is void of green onion? That's the kid's corner. No chunks of red pepper. Check. No green onions. Check. One kid-friendly meal comin' right up! Check.

Pour another cup of pepper sauce on top and then repeat the layers. Tortillas, corn mixture, chicken, cheese, green onions, sauce. Finish with the remaining 6 tortillas and top with the last of the pepper sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

When the timer goes off, pull the casserole from the oven, uncover, and top with more cheese and green onions. I ran out of Mexican blend cheese, so I finished this off with cheddar.

Pop it back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly.

Now you can eat. Finally. Because this took so long to prepare, we ate this in our pj's. The kids got a bath while it baked. It was just too close to bedtime. Definitely worth the effort. It was a huge hit. We all wanted seconds. But next time, this will be a weekend dinner.

Turkey Poblano Casserole adapted from Cooking Light

Yield: 12 servings


2 poblano chiles (about 12 ounces)
2 large red bell peppers
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
3 cups (12 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1 package steam-in-the-bag Southwestern Style Corn, prepared
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-ounce) carton light sour cream
Cooking spray
18 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
3 3/4 cups chopped cooked turkey or breast
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided


Preheat broiler.

Cut poblanos and bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblanos and bell pepper, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes on high or 30 minutes on low until poblanos and bell peppers are blackened and corn is lightly browned. Tightly seal peppers in the foil. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop; set poblanos and bell pepper aside.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a large saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat until slightly thick (about 12 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine 1 cup milk mixture and peppers in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Stir pureed pepper mixture into remaining milk mixture. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine corn, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup Mexican cheese, red onion, cilantro, eggs, and sour cream.

Coat bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Arrange 6 tortillas over sauce, overlapping slightly. Spread half of sour cream mixture over tortillas; top with half of turkey. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup green onions and 2/3 cup Mexican cheese. Pour about 1 cup sauce over cheese. Repeat layers with 6 tortillas, remaining sour cream mixture, remaining chicken, 1/3 cup green onions, 2/3 cup Mexican cheese, 1 cup sauce, and 6 tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Coat 1 side of foil with cooking spray. Place foil, coated side down, over casserole. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Uncover; sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup Mexican cheese and 1/3 cup green onions. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 15 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Calories:369 (29% from fat)
Fat:11.9g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.2g)

* When I make this again, I will use that third poblano. I like the heat!

If you're looking for a great weeknight chicken casserole that comes together in a fraction of the time, try this Chicken Nacho Bake. We love this one!


Palidor said...

3 hours is a good chunk of time, but it was worth it. That casserole looks superb, especially with all that yummy cheese.

Gloria Chadwick said...

This looks absolutely delicious... and well worth the effort. I think I'll make this next time instead of my quick and easy chicken stacked enchiladas. I love your step-by-step directions and the pictures. :)

theUngourmet said...

This is just the kind of meal we love at our house!

I feel for you with those peppers! I've forgotten to wash my hands and have touched my eye or nose. It stings and burns for hours!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

I love it, and I would happily eat it... but three hours... that translates into 5 hours in inept cook(me) time

Katy ~ said...

Wow, three hours, but I think the recipe sounds worth it. I love all the peppery, cheesey, tortilla goodness going on in this! I well imagine that this dish is satisfying on many levels, comfort, flavor, aroma, and eye appeal. YUM!

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