Mexican Lasagna (aka MexiLas)
For the filling:
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (chicken thighs stand up better to the sauce)
1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix (or about 4 teaspoons if you roll your own)
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dried chopped onion
8 oz balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
1 16 oz bag frozen corn niblets
2 15 oz cans of black beans (or 1 each of black and pinto beans), drained and rinsed
For the structure:
6-8 soft tortillas (soft taco size) or 4 burrito size tortillas cut to fit in the casserole dish
4 cups shredded Mexican cheese mixture (or 4 cups grated your favorite mix of cheeses here)
1/2 6 oz can of small olives (use the whole can if you really like olives)
6-8 oz cream cheese cubed or cut into small portions
2 cups full fat sour cream
Parsley flakes and paprika for garnish
Glass or ceramic casserole dish (9 x 13 inches or larger) (tomato sauce will etch your metal pans and you will be unhappy)
Rimmed sheet pan to put under the casserole dish when it goes into the oven, because it will bubble over and spill
Make the filling: In a large heavy saucepan combine the chicken, taco seasoning, dried onion, tomato sauce, cinnamon, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add corn and beans and return to simmering for another 10 minutes.
Build the lasagna: Pour 1/3 of the sauce into the pan, then top with a single layer of tortillas to cover the whole surface. Press gently into the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese evenly over the tortilla layer, dot entire layer with olives and dollops of cream cheese. Cover with half of the remaining sauce and another layer of tortillas. Press firmly into the pan. Layer the rest of the cheese, then the olives and more dollops of cream cheese evenly over this layer. Add the rest of the sauce and the last of the tortillas and press firmly into the pan again. Spread a thick layer of sour cream from edge to edge of the dish as if frosting a sheet cake. Garnish with paprika. Bake in 350 F oven on top of a rimmed sheet pan for 25 to 30 minutes, or until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. Allow to cool slightly before serving in 3" square slices.
It took me over a week to make this, because life kind of grinds me down, but it's pretty easily broken down into a very few steps. Cook the chicken, refrigerate it overnight, then debone and shred the cold meat. This step could be made even simpler by substituting browned ground meat (turkey or pork). Make the filling then put it in the fridge for a few days, letting the flavors marry and making the filling thicker but easier to work with. Build the casserole and bake it. You'll have leftovers unless you're feeding several people.