A cooking and baking journal

The Colorful Side of Brown Food

3/30/11:  Quesadilla Casserole

I remember watching an Iron Chef America episode when there was a discussion of "brown food." Oh, there is nothing wrong with brown food in most cases--nicely browned pork cutlets or a dark, rich chocolate ganache is always a good thing, but not all dishes should showcase that shade. And that is exactly what happened during the episode's judging. A dish came out and it came with a very unappetizing shade of brown, a brown similar to a cardboard box.

So the three judges searched for their inner Andrew Zimmern stomachs and went in with their forks. Mind you, I do not recollect who was challenging who, what the secret ingredient was, or which tie Alton Brown was wearing, but what I do remember is the look on their faces. They loved it and the dish went over with flying colors.

A very similar scenario happened in my house. I made this Quesadilla Casserole, a recipe I found in the October 2009 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, and I substituted the black beans with refried beans because I was out of the former. Yeah, you can see where this is going. The casserole came out browner than brown.

But because of my Iron Chef capabilities (yeah, right), the dish turned out to have great flavor. I guess brown food isn't all that bad.

When I made it again and decided to make it just as flavorful but add a bit of color, I did this simply by making a couple cups of homemade enchilada sauce and using that as a layer. I also made sure I used a can of black beans; they add color and contrast to the casserole.

So here is the casserole all spruced up:

What about you? Have you been cooking any Mexican inspired dishes? Which is your family's favorite that you cook again and again?

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