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This crispy crunchy stack of fresh-fried tortillas layered with a tomatilla- poblano meat sauce, and Chihuahua cheese is a surprisingly yummy throwback/fresh-take on ‘70s tortilla casseroles. The crunch is delicious, and the flavor of the tangy sauce, mild. If you prefer more heat, feel free to add hotter peppers to the mix, or, serve with spicy salsa.
Notes: To make the crunch stacks, you’ll need a deep fat fryer. The only fiddly-bit is frying up the tortilla rectangles which need to be made two at a time and flipped over during the fry cycle…the result is worth it! Also note: raw poblano peppers can be spicy hot—slow-cooked, they mellow to mildness.
Tortilla Crunch Stack (MKRogers)
- 8 tortillas from 1 package of fresh flour tortillas
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 medium tomatillos, husks removed, washed and chopped
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 poblano peppers, washed, cored and diced
- 1 lb ground hamburger OR ground turkey OR ground chicken
- 6 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated
- Deep-fat fryer filled with vegetable oil
- Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer up to 350 degrees. Cut a stack of 8 flour tortillas into rectangles, saving the trim to slice into thin strips. Prepare a work station with a mesh rack covered with a stack of paper toweling. Deep fry the tortilla rectangles, flipping them over with tongs as they begin to take on a golden color. Don’t worry if they puff up into pillows—The finished fried tortillas will still be a bit pliable, just gently push down to crush the bubble part flat-- you won’t crumble the planks entirely by flattening the bubbles. Drain each fried tortilla rectangle on the prepared rack, blotting any oil with a paper towel.
- Take the remaining trim of the tortillas that you have cut into thin strips, and fry those strips until crispy. Drain.
- Combine the chopped onion and tomatillos with 2 Tbsp oil and cook over medium heat, covered, removing cover to stir occasionally, until soft. Add ½ cup water and cook another five minutes. Using a hand-held immersion blender, partially puree the vegetables. You will have a creamy sauce. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste. Set aside.
- In a separate pan, cook the diced poblano peppers for 20 minutes in 1 cup of water, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as needed, until quite soft. Note: When they are raw, the peppers will be quite hot and spicy. Once soft cooked, they will have a mellow flavor.
- Brown your choice of 1 pound of ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken until cooked through. Thoroughly drain and discard the fat from the meat. Salt and pepper the meat to taste.
- Mix meat with the poblano peppers and tomatillo-onion puree.
- Grate 6 ounces of Chihuahua cheese (substitute Monterey Jack if Chihuahua cheese is not available.)
- Preheat oven to 350. To assemble, line a baking dish with parchment paper. Place one of the fried tortilla planks on the parchment. Layer with the meat sauce. Sprinkle a bit of cheese on top. Add second fried tortilla plank. Continue until you have a crunch stack that is four-tortilla planks high. Repeat the method to make a second crunch stack. To finish, top both stacks with a bit more meat sauce and cheese, sprinkle with the fried thin tortilla strips and a bit more cheese. Place in 350 degree oven until the cheese melts. Eat immediately, with cilantro garnish and a side salad.
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