Spicy Mexican Pie

(Adapted from 500 Main Courses, edited by Jenni Fleetwood)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tsp. onion powder
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. chili powder
12 oz. round steak, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 C cooked rice
Beef stock
3 large wheat tortillas

Salsa Picante

1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 onion, quartered
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
water or tomato juice, if needed

Cheese Sauce

4 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 C All-purpose flour
2 1/2 C milk
1 C grated cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Make the salsa picante. Place the tomatoes, garlic, & onion in a blender or food processor & purée until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan, add spices & oregano, and season with salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato juice or water if necessary.

2. For the cheese sauce, melt the butter & stir in the flour. Cook 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add the milk, cooking until the mixture thickens. Stir in all but 2 Tbsp. of the cheese and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.

3. Mix the garlic, onion powder & chili powder in a bowl. Add the beef & toss to combine. Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the meat. Cook 10 minutes, then stir in the rice & about 2 Tbsp. of beef stock. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Pour 1/4 of the cheese sauce in an oven-proof dish, cover with a tortilla, then top with half the salsa & half the meat. Repeat these layers, ending with a tortilla on top. Spread the remaining cheese sauce, and top with the reserved 2 Tbsp. of shredded cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden.

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