Stacking Skills Come Into Play When Making Enchilada Casserole

When you're looking to make a no-fuss meal in no time at all, a casserole is always at the top of the list. The clean-up is exceptionally easy, and because many casseroles require little more than a good stir before being popped in the oven, the preparation is pretty painless, too. However, while recipe developer Laura Sampson says her enchilada casserole recipe makes dinner a breeze, it does require some stacking know-how.

To give structure to the layers of gooey cheese, beef, and enchilada sauce, you'll need to break things up with some artfully-placed corn tortillas. Once you've coated the bottom of your casserole dish with enchilada sauce, place one tortilla in the center. A second tortilla can be split in two and put along both sides of the whole one, filling the space around it.

In order to get the most coverage, the straight edges of the halved tortilla should be in line with the outer edges of the dish (with the rounded edges facing the center.) The two halves can be placed along the top and bottom of the whole tortilla or flanking either side of it. However, there's no need to overthink the placement, because it will alternate with each new layer. While Sampson used regular-sized tortillas, she said, "You could use bigger tortillas if you wanted to and just use two per layer."

Layer like a pro

Once you've laid the foundation, the fillings can be piled on top. According to Laura Sampson's enchilada casserole recipe, the tortillas should be covered with a healthy amount of meat, cheese, and sauce. If you're trying to lay off of the red meat, Sampson explained you can easily swap in chicken instead. "You could use any lean meat in place of the beef," she noted.

For the second layer, the tortillas should be placed in the opposite configuration as the first layer. (If the first two halves were placed at the ends of the dish, the second two should be on the sides — or vice versa.) The third layer can mimic the first, exactly. A final layer of tortillas can be drenched in enchilada sauce before covering the ensemble with cheese and baking it to perfection.

It's hard to imagine how Sampson's flavor-packed, stacked enchilada casserole could need anything more. But at the end of the day, as she pointed out, "It's all about the garnishes, isn't it?" If you're looking to add some personal flair to the dish, "You can dress these up with sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped peppers, [and] salsa," Sampson said. "Just about anything will make a great garnish and optional topping."