This recipe was originally featured in a McDonell-Rickards 20th Family Reunion Cookbook. I received a copy of the cookbook from my mother-in-law. My father-in-law (whose mother was a McDonell/Rickards) was friends with one of John Wayne’s stunt doubles and I’m told that’s how we got the recipe. I think John Wayne must have given it out to a lot of folks, as I’ve seen it featured in several other cookbooks and recipe collections throughout the years.
I’ve altered it slightly from the original recipe, and it is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. He requested it this year for his birthday and since it is fresh in my mind I decided it was a blog-worthy recipe to share with y’all. It is a little bit time consuming to make with fresh chilies, but they are a must if you want your casserole to pop with flavor! We like the spicy chilies the best!!!!!!!!
18-20 fresh Anaheim or Fresno (or New Mexico – Hatch) green chilies
1 stick of butter
1 very large white or yellow onion, chopped
3 8-oz packages of pepper-jack Cheese, shredded
10 large eggs
½ cup of flour (seasoned)
1 tsp salt (and ground black pepper to taste)
Fresh salsa (or warm Ranchero sauce)
Chopped green onion
I start by roasting my chilies with a propane flame torch in our fire pit. I lay all my chilies out on the rack and then light the gas torch and run it up and down each chili until the skins start popping and blistering and turn black all over. Then I use BBQ tongs to turn the chilies over and roast them on the other side. When I’m done I gather them up into a plastic bag and let them steam in the bag for about an hour. I sometimes grow my own chilies in my garden, and don’t always get very many at each picking. So after roasting and steaming the few that I’ve picked, I put them in my freezer to keep until I have enough to make my casserole. This is a great way to keep your chilies also if you buy in bulk and want to have them all winter for recipes. Don’t peel them until you’re ready to use.
Next, I melt a stick of butter in my frying pan and chop up a very large white or yellow onion. I turn the heat down to medium, add the onion, and let it sauté over medium (to low) heat until the onions are completely caramelized.
Meanwhile, while the onions are cooking I peel the green chilies at the sink. I pull off the stems, swipe out all the seeds, and stack the split and flattened chilies on a plate. This is the worst part of the prep. The chilies often cause choking – (If you are sensitive you could wear a mask). Be careful also that you wash your hands really well afterward and don’t touch your eye or something. The residue on your fingers can cause irritation.
When my onions are ready then I am ready to begin assembly. Preheat oven to 350*F.
Drizzle melted butter (from the onions) onto the bottom of an oblong glass casserole dish. Use approximately 6 chilies to cover the bottom of the dish from side to side and end to end. Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded cheese over the chilies, and then spoon about 1/3 of the caramelized onions around on the cheese. Repeat with a layer of about 6 chilies, another 1/3 of the cheese, and some more onions. Finish with a final layer of chilies, cheese, and the onions.
Break eggs into a large bowl. Add half-and-half, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the seasoned flour (I like the Louisiana brand Fried Chicken Batter mix, but if you don’t have any just add a generous teaspoon of Cajun seasoning – like Slap Yo Mama to your plain white flour). Whip with a whisk until fully combined, and then pour this mixture over the chilies in the casserole dish. Place spoonfuls of salsa here and there on the top of the casserole. Place in preheated oven and cover with a piece of aluminum foil that’s been wadded up and flattened back out again and then tented over the casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and jostle dish a little bit to make sure the egg has set and is cooked in the middle. If unsure you can remove the casserole and insert a knife in the center pulling it apart slightly to see if it is set up or still runny. If still runny, let it bake another 10 minutes and check again.
Let rest a few moments before slicing. I like to serve it with some fresh salsa (or Ranchero) drizzled on top, and also a dollop of ®Daisy! Sliced green onions and some minced cilantro are also wonderful for garnishes.
TIP: When serving, be careful not to dump your son-in-law’s portion all over the front of him in a fit of clumsiness! Wow! Besides being burning hot like molten lava to his flesh, it makes a terrible, horrible mess, ruins his favorite golf shirt, and is impossible to get out of the cracks of the furniture. Hey, I’ve invented the shirt plate! OMG, yes, this happened!