Saturday, April 16, 2011
We had a Tex Mex inspired casserole on the barbecue grill this evening. I'll just call it Taco Chicken Potato Casserole. I'd give it a better name, but I don't recall many of my Spanish vocabularly words from college.
The concept is similar to the hobo packs many of us made in Scouts, but I used a toss away aluminum pan. With only two of us eating, I used the small size which looks to be around 8 x 10 inches and around an inch deep. My ruler apparently is with the lost socks of the household - goodness knows where.
The first thing I did was cut a layer of potatoes. Since I was using chicken tenders which are thinner than the boneless chicken breasts, I cut the potatoes thin so that the cooking time would be even. I used three medium sized potatoes and left the skins on, since these were the new potatoes with thin skins.
I put the potatoes in the pan which I'd sprayed lightly with non-stick Pam spray butter flavor. Then, I put the chicken tenders on top. After that I sprinkled on a bit of taco seasoning. I didn't measure. I just sprinkled as I would with a seasoning like salt or pepper.
The next step was to cover the casserole with salsa - around one cup. I used Chi Chi's medium chunky which turned out to be hotter than I expected. That was fine, but I love hot foods.
At this point, this looks pretty thick, but the salsa cooks down as it grills and does add liquid to the dish.
The last ingredient is cheese. I had a bag of mixed Tex Mex cheese. Eli loves cheese, so I went generous on that.
Most any cheese is going to work here, and you can use the pre-shredded or just shread your own on top.
Once I had the casserole together, I got a piece of aluminum foil which we call tin foil here in the South. I put that over the dish and crimped around the edges. That's to hold in the heat. Cooking this open on the grill would make for a really long time on cooking and also dry out the dish.
I used a gas grill for this casserole recipe, but I've also done it over charcoal offset and the casserole on the cool side of the charcoal grill. In this case, I went with low heat on the gas grill (ranging from 300 to 400 degrees F) with the lid closed on the grill. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes for the casserole to be cooked through.
Since grills differ in terms of heat and since the potato slices or meat may be thinner or thicker than what I have here, I'd suggest checking at around 45 minutes. Just lift the corner of the aluminum foil and use a fork to test a potato (and then press the foil back in place if the casserole is not quite ready). That's what I do when I use a new grill for this recipe.
Grilled Chicken with Potatoes is easy to make and tastes delicious. You can go mild with a low heat salsa or spice it up more with a hot version. Adjust the taco seasoning powder or go milder or hotter on that as well.
Eli said that this recipe reminds him of lasagna but with more zip. It does kind of have that flavor and feel.
Note, too, that you can do this dish in the oven as well. Just use a casserole dish with a cover (or use tin foil) and follow the same basic steps. It's more fun to do it outside, but if you don't have a grill or it's raining, it's still a rich dish that hits the spot.