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Archive for March 17th, 2007

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Spicy Taco Pie

1# boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 Poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. frozen corn kernels
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
3/4 c. bottled salsa
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. shredded cheese
1-2 c. broken tortilla chips

Set oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
Heat saute pan over medium heat with a coating of oil. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until opaque and softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add in both peppers and saute until soft. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring for a minute or two. Add in zucchini and corn, and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove vegetables to a bowl. Heat a small amount of oil in pan. Toss chicken with all the seasonings, and add to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally until all pink is gone, maybe 10 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Stir back in the vegetables, add in the salsa and chicken broth, stir to combine. Add in about half the cheese and chips and mix.  Pour into prepared pan, top with remaining cheese and chips, and bake until cheese is melted and is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and guacamole.

We really loved this dish. The prep time for cutting up the veggies and chicken took more time than it did to cook it and put it together. It was a bit spicy, very flavorful and there was the nice crunch from the chips. This recipe could be modified dozens of ways, and it had gone into the oven before I thought that a can of black beans would have been a wonderful addition, so keep that in mind if you decide to try this. You could amp up the spice content with fresh anaheims, or jalapenos; you could make it smokier by roasting the peppers (the original recipe called for this step, but it was Friday and I wasn’t at all interested). Use a spicy or mild salsa, or a combination to get the right level of heat. You could vary the vegetables to taste, adding different colored peppers to make it even lovelier, you could make a spicy cheese sauce to stir into it instead of salsa, broth and cheese. You could vary the crunch flavor with any number of flavored chips, using them as a base and piling the ingredients on top to bake, or by mixing more in. Griffin even suggested that it could be eaten scooped up with chips if someone wanted, and I thought that it would make a great hot appetizer too if you diced and minced everything down to be smaller. It could be served in soft tortillas as an enchilada base, in crisp shells for a taco, on a bed of lettuces in taco salad, or as part of an open face tostada.

I loved the taste of the chicken sauteed with the spices on it, instead of adding them to the meat after it’s cooked. I have started doing that with meats for other dishes and it really jazzes up the taste. I had made up some fresh guacamole too, and a small scoop was a perfect addition, along with a few dollops of sour cream. It was nice and filling too. This one is definitely getting added to our rotation. It really is a winner.

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