Long before I can remember ever seeing a commercial tortilla with any pizazz, I began jazzing up my own totillas with fresh herbs. My favorite herb to use is Rosemary, freshly cut and finely chopped.
When you add just a bit of fresh herbs and salt to your tortilla mix, the notes come through just enough to make the lovely, subtle difference you need to transform a bland tortilla base into an integral part of the dish.
Rosemary seems to go well with most dishes where I use tortillas, such as the Mexican inspired lasagna below, with eggs dishes, or even home made tortilla chips.
(Tarragon is an intereting herb to add to a tortilla mix and I encourage you to try it with a bit of lemon zest!)
How to make Elizabeth’s Mexican-Inspired Poached Chicken Lasagna.
Poaching the Chicken
- Place two, plump, boneless chicken breasts into a pan with about 1-1/2 inches of water. You to not have to submerge the chicken.
- Cover the pan.
- Simmer (do not allow to boil) for about 5 – minutes.
- Turn OFF the heat and allow chicken to rest for a full 20 minutes, cover still on.
Meanwhile, prepare your tortillas.
Making the Tortillas
Most supermarkets carry Maseca, a corn flour mix which blends fast & easy with water. I use about equal parts of flour to water. I prefer the white Maseca which I found in Panama. Here in the USA I found only yellow so I went with that. No big deal.
Here is what I did…
First: I measured out a large, heaping spoonful of dry dough for each tortilla. For this recipe I wanted 12 tortillas. I think I probably used 16 spoonfulls for 12.
Next: I added about a 2 tablespoons of finely chopped Rosemary to the dry flour … and some salt.
Then: I began adding water, stirring with a fork, a spoon, or my clean fingers until I achieved a moist mass of dough that easily molds into golf ball sized nuggets.
Note: This is hardly an exact science. Maseca is forgiving, so if your mix is too wet, sprinkle on more flour, or if it’s too dry, add a spritz of water.
Tortilla Press I searched for months — online and in stores — for a simple tortilla press, coming up empty-handed. Then my little sister, Chiclet found not one, but two heavy aluminum presses, both at the GoodWill — both costing a whopping $5!
It’s easy breezy to press a tortilla!
- Lay the right half of a long piece of plastic wrap over the press.
- Place your ball of dough in the center.
- Fold the upper half of the plastic wrap over the top, press and… Presto!
- Peel the plastic wrap slowly and flop your tortilla into a hot skillet. No oil necessary!
- The tortilla will likely bubble up and that’s when you flip it, just one time. If it doesn’t form a bubble, flip it after about a minute. Cook the tortilla another minute and set it aside on a plate. Repeat until you have 12 stacked up. It does not matter if they are softer or crispier. They are going to bake in the oven anyway. As I said, this is not an exact process and it is forgiving.
Layering it all together
- Proper cooks shred their now cooked and cooled chicken breasts with a fork. I confess, I pull apart my chicken threads with clean fingers. I’m hyper and I have no patience.
- Butter the bottom of your favorite baking or lasagna dish.
- Lay down four tortillas and cover with half the shredded chicken.
- Over the chicken, layer on thinly sliced, sweet, white onion.
- Now add fesh, chopped cilantro, about 1/4 cup.
- Add fresh, sliced tomato OR canned, chopped tomato
- Place evenly dots of guacamole (optional) and then cream or sour cream. I mixed up a combination of sour cream and Nestle canned cream, added salt, and dotted my dish with this.
- Now add dots of Salsa Verde or Rotel salsa.
- Over all this, lay on some Provolone cheese. I prefer provolone because it is less gooey, but you can feel free to use mozzerella or any melty cheese of your choice, such as Monterrey Jack, etc. It doesn’t matter.
- Cover this with four more tortillas and repeat the above process.
- Bake at 350 for 1/2 an hour. Cut and serve