Sunday, August 24, 2008

Southwestern Chili Lasagna

So, this morning I was browsing a forum I frequent. There is a thread where people can post what they made for dinner and I like to read that to get ideas since my knowledge of different meals is still small. One lady made a post about a blog she loves and that she was trying the Mexican lasagna recipe from that site for dinner.

I posted last week that I was going to try making meals that take a while on Sundays since it's usually a lazy day and I tend to be home all day. I asked Lee what he wanted and eventually he decided upon lasagna.

Well, after hearing about the Mexican lasagna, I thought I would try that. I didn't see the Mexican lasagna on that site, so I decided to come up with my own creation. I thought that flour tortillas would work instead of the noodles and that chili would work in place of the tomato sauce and ground meat. I figured a Mexican cheese blend would be good for the cheese layer.

I got to work on my chili for the recipe since it needed to simmer. I was glad I had decided to buy some nice ground peppers from Penzeys. (Well, I actually bought some whole ancho chiles and whole chipotle peppers as well, but decided it would be easier to use the ground for this purpose.) I love the ancho chile flavor, so I decided to use some of that in my chili. I also added some chipotle pepper. Ancho chiles are smoked purple poblanos, and chipotles are smoked red jalapeƱos. Add some smoked Spanish paprika (smoked red bell pepper) and I had a great smoky taste with my chili!

I was eventually directed to the post about the Mexican lasagna, but by that time I had already started my own version, so I just took the idea of adding some rice to the lasagna to add another layer of texture to the dish. I'm so glad I saw that post and added the rice! It would still have tasted good, but it tasted more complete and well-rounded with the addition of rice.

I ended up using the same peppers in my rice that I did in my chili. I thought it would be best for making the rice and chili blend well together, plus I like those flavors anyway. When Lee first tried a bite of the rice on its own, he said "Oh, wow! First you taste the rice, then you get some heat from the peppers, then there is a smoky flavor!" Yes, my dear, that's the smoked peppers! The rice had nice flavor from the Basmati rice (it was recommended in the blog post for the nice flavor and texture and I have to agree). I think it was the sensation of the flavors coming in waves that he thought was so cool.

Since I was making up my own recipe (although basing proportions of ingredients on recipes I found online since I'm not very comfortable being completely on my own with this), I wanted to make sure that the rice and chili each tasted good on their own. I figured if they taste good on their own, they would taste great together. Turns out I was right and now I have a great recipe for chili and a great recipe for Mexican rice!

This had a mellow heat to it. I wouldn't describe it as spicy. If you want spicy, add some more chipotle or add some cayenne pepper to it. Ancho chile doesn't have much heat to it, so it wouldn't do much for added spiciness.

Only problem with this was I couldn't think of an appropriate side dish. Any suggestions are welcome!

What started out as an improvisation is now a new favorite in our house!

Southwestern Chili Lasagna

For the chili:
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 lbs ground beef

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon
chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

1 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper

For the rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups
chicken stock
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup
diced onion
1 garlic clove
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon
dried chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked spanish paprika

For the assembly:
4 large flour tortillas
Mexican cheese blend
cilantro (for garnish)

  1. For the chili:
  2. Dice the medium onion.
  3. Cook in a 8qt. pot over medium heat.
  4. Dice 2 cloves garlic and add to onions.
  5. Add ground beef and cook until browned.
  6. Drain out most of the fat.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients for the chili. Simmer on stove for several hours or until all the flavors have come together.
  8. For the rice:
  9. Rinse rice to remove excess starch. Add to pot with the chicken stock.
  10. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce to simmer until all the stock has been absorbed.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat.
  13. Add 1 cup diced onion, Rotel, and 1 clove minced garlic. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir together.
  14. Cook until onion and garlic are tender.
  15. Add to tomato mixture to the rice by fluffing with a fork until it is evenly incorporated.
  16. For the lasagna (I made an 8x4" lasagna):
  17. Ladle a thin layer of the chili on the bottom of your pan.
  18. Trim the rounded edges off the tortillas and cut into strips. Create a layer of tortilla strips in the pan.
  19. Scoop about 1-2 cups rice and spread in even layer over tortillas.
  20. Spread about 2 cups chili over rice.
  1. Sprinkle to cover with cheese.
  2. Repeat until you are within 1/2" of the top of your pan. Leave the cheese as the last later.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro.
  4. Spray aluminum foil with non-stick spray and bake in a 350°F oven for about 1/2 hour. Remove foil and cook until cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly.


Made by Lena