Budget-friendly meals, 192pp.
by Better Homes and Gardens
John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2010
Cooking on page 32
Graeme, the saint who usually minds our house and dog when we travel, bought this cookbook a while back to give him some ideas for things to cook in our absence. It’s loaded with lots of clever and economical ideas for family meals.
I especially liked the look of the recipe on page 32. It has all my favourite flavours.
Mexican chicken casserole
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 x 2 to 2 1/4-pound deli-roasted chicken
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers (1 ounce)
dairy sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, stir together beans, 1/4 cup of the salsa, and the cumin. Divide bean mixture among four individual au gratin dishes or casseroles; set aside.
Cut chicken into quarters. Place one piece on bean mixture in each dish. Spoon remaining 1/4 cup salsa evenly over chicken pieces. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. If desired, serve with sour cream.
How it played out
Tinned black beans have only recently been available in Australia, so I’ve been waiting a while to make this recipe. Of course, I could have soaked and cooked dried beans, but the purpose of this recipe is the economy and ease of preparation. One-pound bags of dried black beans cost about $4, but I can buy a tin on special for $1.
The economy really kicked when I managed to buy a nice-sized deli-roasted chicken for just $6.
The recipe was easy to put together, but my au gratin dishes were small enough that it made sense to get rid of the most of the chicken bones and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces.
We can’t get Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño here, so I used a nice cheddar and a pickled jalapeño. I made this a second time, using jalapeño relish. Both worked well. Oh, and sour cream shouldn’t be optional. It’s a perfect addition.
This recipe is a complete success in every way. The first time I made it, I took two servings to Yass to share with my friend, Maggie. Left one at home for Poor John and gave one to daughter, Petra, for her dinner. We all loved the flavours and I especially loved how easy it was to make.
A highly recommended dish for busy cooks—actually for anyone who enjoys chicken and a touch of chilli. That said, I’m sure you could replace the chicken with a different meat—such as ground beef or ham—or even a vegetarian meat substitute.
If you have a moment, be sure to check out my travel blog.