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Chilaquiles Roja with Pan Seared Chicken

Chilaquiles are a Mexican delight little enjoyed north of the border.  This is true peasant food consisting, in many poor  Mexican homes, of little more than stale tortillas topped with either a red (roja) or green (verde) chile sauce.  But using that simple idea as a starting point opens a world of creativity.  Here the addition of chicken and cheese transform the simple chilaquiles into a delicious main course.

1-28 ounce can   crushed tomatoes
1 pound   chicken tenderloin (or other finger sized strips of meat)
2 dozen   (or so) unsalted corn tortilla chips (do not substitute flour tortillas)
8 ounces   heavy cream
8 ounces   shredded Jack cheese
3 tablespoons   peanut oil, divided 2 and 1
1 bunch   diced scallions (divided into green and white parts)
2 medium   Anaheim chiles, seeded and sliced into rings
1 tablespoon   dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 tablespoon   chili powder, divided
2 teaspoons   dried, crushed chipotle (or 1 whole rehydrated)
1 teaspoon   cumin
large lime

Preheat the oven to 375.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  In a bowl toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the chili powder.  Place in fridge to marinade for at least a half hour.

Heat a skillet large enough to hold all ingredients over medium heat, add oil and swirl to coat pan.  Add the scallions (white parts) and the Anaheim chiles, reduce heat and simmer until the veggies have softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, cream, chipotle and seasonings, bring to a boil then reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes until it has started to reduce and thicken.

While the sauce is simmering heat a nonstick skillet, coated with cooking spray, over high heat.  Cook the chicken allowing it to sear well on both sides while cooking almost through, about 1-2 minutes per side depending on thickness.  If necessary do this in two batches to avoid cooling the skillet.  Set aside.

When the sauce is ready line the bottom of a baking dish (11"x7" is about the right size) with the tortilla chips 1-2 chips deep.  Spread one half the sauce over the chips.  Lay the seared chicken over the sauce and cover the chicken with the remaining sauce.  Top the sauce with the shredded cheese and the green parts of the scallions.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbly.  Sprinkle top with lime juice.

We like to serve this with yellow rice.  Yum!


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