This has become one of my family's favorite quick and easy dinners, after I created it while camping on Ocracoke Island decades ago - it was basically what I had left at the end of the week. You'll need the following:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- one sweet Vidalia onion, sliced by not too finely
- two or three cloves of garlic, smashed and dice
- a pound of chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
- one can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- a pound of shredded cheese, a combination of 2-3 is best
- fresh tomatoes, diced, or a can of drained diced tomatoes
- one bell pepper, diced
- one package taco seasoning mix (or the equivalent mixture from your pantry)
- a glass of white wine - for the cook, but you'll need some for the dish
My favorite cheeses for this include fresh cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan, but you can use whatever you have left in the refrigerator - or in my case that summer of 1980, the ice chest.
I typically shred them on the larger size, rather than so fine. Bags of pre-shredded, dairycase cheeses are great to have on hand the freezer - and I usually do - but I still prefer to shred chunks of fresh cheese whenever I can.
Prepare all your ingredients and set them aside within reach of the stove. Pour yourself a glass of white wine (most any semi-dry variety is fine), and get ready.
Heat the olive oil till hot, then sauté the onion until translucent. Add in the garlic and stir until hot, but don't let it brown, then add in the chicken.
Stir frequently until the chicken is opaque and little pink is left, pouring in a bit of wine during the process to keep everything from sticking.
Add in the pepper and continue stirring a minute or two. Then add in the tomatoes and beans, stirring all together until warmed through.
Add the seasoning mix or combination of spices of your choice and mix well, adding in a bit more wine or water if it seems too dry.
The mixture should be moist but not too soupy… At this point, read on for serving suggestions, or spoon the mixture into taco shells or roll up in a burrito and top with cheese.
Spread the mixture in a flat, greased, ovenproof pan or plate - once again, a piece of my Milt Friedly pottery collection is my go to, as it will move straight to the table for serving. Top with the shredded cheeses.
When my kids were home, I'd often tear several squares of tin foil, turning up the edges and lining them up on a cookie sheet for the task. I'd layer nacho chips in the foil, top with the chicken mixture and shredded cheeses to bake. Once out of the oven, each had their own individual serving to eat with their fingers.
Set the oven on broil, and heat a few minutes with the oven door slightly open until the cheese is bubbly.
Move the dish to a trivet or cork on the coffee table with a bowl of nacho chips and some plates, and you have a simple, healthy, and filling meal to eat fireside or while binge-watching Netflix. Guilty pleasures! (and the leftovers, if there are any, always get eaten quickly)