This dish began with a baby. Our dear friends were expecting a little “it” any day, and I went into a minor panic that I hadn’t made them anything to keep in their freezer. When they arrived home with that little bundle, I wanted them to be able to eat a home-cooked meal without actually doing the cooking part.
The only things I remember from the evening we brought our daughter home from the hospital are 1) how flippin cute she was, even as a newborn, and 2) the hamburger pie that my mother-in-law had left us in the fridge. When you are sleep deprived, have lived on hospital food and candy bars for days, and are stuck in the otherworldly universe of “new parent,” there is nothing better than finding dinner waiting for you.
But I didn’t want to cook something expected. It needed to be comforting but not blah, creative but not bizarre. I consulted a few similar recipes, but they were all lacking in one way or another. I ended up going off the map and making a creation of my own, without guidance or even a clue what I was doing.
The result was more delicious, more satisfying that I could have imagined. Between the layers of handmade tortilla, melted cheeses and fire-roasted tomatoes was something beyond bliss. This was comfort food of mammoth proportions.
Ordinary items from the grocery store, tortillas from Trader Joe’s, and a few things that I had on hand all came together in one star-crossed, meant-to-be meal. This is the most non-fancy dinner that I can think of, and yet I would prefer it to dining at the best new restaurant in town.
So what made it so magical? What transformed this pan of regular stuff into tiny square slices of crack-cocaine?
Welcome to the world, Beckett Flynn. You are dearly loved, even at four days old. And you have inspired a recipe that will be gracing the freezers of parents-to-be for years to come.
This dish freezes and reheats exceptionally well, which makes it perfect for double batches. Makes 1 9×13″ pan, or about 12 servings. If you prefer a bit more spice (I do), you can up the taco seasoning to 1 1/2-2 packets.
- 1 lb ground turkey or ground beef
- 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chiles
- 2 (14 ounce) cans refried beans
- 1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives
- 8 large flour tortillas (preferably handmade—most better grocers will carry them)
- 1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- sour cream for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F. In a large skillet, brown ground meat. Drain fat. Add tomatoes, taco seasoning and water. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, combine the refried beans, diced green chiles and black olives. Stir. Blend the two grated cheeses together in a separate bowl.
Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the bean mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. Cover with two of the flour tortillas. Spread with a third of the cheese mixture, then cover with half of the meat mixture. Cover with tortillas once again, then layer the remaining beans, two more tortillas, 1/3 of the cheese, the remaining meat mixture, the remaining tortillas, and the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with a dollop of sour cream if desired.