Tex-Mex “Lasagna” (also known as “Mexican Casserole” or “Mexican Lasagna”) is called such because like the Italian lasagna we know and love, the Tex-Mex version is a baked casserole dish comprised of layers. Only in true Tex-Mex fashion, we are using corn tortillas in place of lasagna noodles, salsa instead of sauce, beans in place of béchamel, and mild cheddar and jack instead of ricotta and Parmesan. As you can imagine, it is a filling dish with all the makings of enchiladas, tacos, and tostadas in one place. Perfect with guacamole and sour cream. Great for potlucks and large gatherings of hungry people.
- 1 1/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef
- Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 14-oz can pinto beans, rinsed in cold water and drained (or you can cook your own pinto beans from scratch)
- 2 teaspoons bacon fat (can substitute olive oil)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 medium onions
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen "Fire Roasted"
- 1 7-oz can diced green Anaheim chiles
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 cups coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 oz)
- 2 cups coarsely grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
- Sour cream
- Iceberg lettuce
1 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. Add the ground meat, breaking it up as you add it. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle on the chile powder, cayenne, cumin, and coriander. Increase the heat to high. Add another 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Do not stir the meat unnecessarily. Allow it to brown on one side, and then stir it so the other side can be browned. As soon as the meat is browned, remove the pan from the burner. The meat will continue to cook in the heat of the cast iron pan. Once you are sure that the meat is cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pan to a bowl. Set aside.
2 While the meat is cooking, heat bacon fat in another frying pan on medium high. Add the rinsed, drained cooked pinto beans to the pan. Mash gently with a potato masher (careful if you are using a stick-free pan not to scratch the surface of the pan). Stir in enough water so that the beans are easily thinly spreadable, about a half a cup. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside. Note you could skip this step by using canned refried beans than have been thinned with water. We have found that the canned refried beans do not taste as good as rinsed canned whole beans that have been refried on the stovetop. Best is to make the beans from scratch but not everyone has time for that.
3 Once the meat is done cooking, and has been removed from the pan in step 1, add another Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat to medium. Add the onions and chopped bell peppers, cook until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, green chilies and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the tortillas.
4 In a 9-inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup olive oil on medium high heat until it is sizzling hot, but not smoking. Cook the tortillas one at a time, for 5 seconds on each side, so that they soften, but don't get crisp. Remove with tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
5 Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 13x9x3-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
6 In baking dish arrange 4 tortillas in one layer, overlapping slightly (tortillas will not cover bottom completely). Spread half of bean mixture evenly over tortillas in dish and top with half of meat mixture. Sprinkle one third cheese over the meat and spread half of the sauce over the cheese.
Repeat layering of tortillas, beans, meat, cheese, and sauce and top with remaining 4 tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over tortillas. Bake casserole on the middle rack in the oven for 35 minutes, until the casserole is heated through and the cheese is completely melted and bubbling. Let the casserole stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8. Serve with sour cream, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, and thinly sliced iceberg lettuce on which has been sprinkled vinegar and salt.