If you’re a fan of enchiladas you don’t want to miss this new cookbook, Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex. This Pastel Azteca recipe is an easy homemade recipe for chicken enchilada casserole and is so delicious with fresh ingredients.
Winter is a time for comfort food in this household and casseroles are one of my favorite fallback meals because life is crazy busy and they are easy to throw together ahead of time. We love bold flavors so this Pastel Azteca sounded like just the thing to try.
It has a few steps but I love that I can do the steps whenever I have a moment. I can cook and shred chicken for the week, make the tomato base in a big batch for several meal starters, and roast red bell peppers and poblanos at the same time.
I’m excited about this new cookbook because it transports flavors from a region I fell in love with long ago and plops them right in my kitchen. The flavors instantly take me back to Latin America and the summers I spent there. I can’t wait to try more recipes from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex.
Just wait until you see all the beautiful pictures and tasty dishes between the covers. With over 60 traditional and contemporary enchilada recipes, new foodie adventures await you, so jump in and give it a try. Oh, and did I mention they’re running a giveaway? Check it out at the end of the post and ENTER. You could win some yummy foods.
Pastel Azteca (Chicken Enchilada Casserole)
For the sauce:
- 2 pounds Roma tomatoes
- ½ medium white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Kosher salt to taste
For the layers:
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), poached and shredded (Use your favorite method of preparation, moisten with broth, cover, and refrigerate until needed)
- 6 poblano chiles, divided (⅓ are reserved for topping)
- 1 ½ cups crema Mexicana
- 1 ½ firmly packed cups queso asadero, grated (or substitute Monterey Jack)
For the assembly:
- 12 corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil as needed for softening tortillas
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil for greasing casserole
For the garnish:
- Chopped tomato
Start with the sauce:
- Place whole tomatoes in a saucepan, add ¾ cup water, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the tomatoes barely burst open.
- Set aside to cool slightly in the cooking liquid.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a blender along with the onion and garlic.
- Blend to a very smooth purée, adding tomato cooking liquid as needed to achieve a thick sauce consistency.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan, add the tomato purée and cook until it slightly darkens, 10–15 minutes. Season with salt to taste, cover and set aside.
Prepare the poblano chiles:
- Place whole chiles directly on a barbeque grill over hot coals or a gas burner flame. (Heather’s Note: I made do with throwing them under the broiler.)
- Turn the chiles to blacken them evenly.
- When chiles are evenly blistered and blackened, remove and place them in a paper bag.
- Place the paper bag inside a plastic bag, close and allow the chiles to steam for several minutes (until cool enough to handle).
- When cool, remove skins, stems, veins and seeds from chiles and slice into strips, or rajas.
Note: To maintain maximum flavor, chiles should not be rinsed with water.
Heather’s Note: You may want to use gloves for this part. I burned my hands.
Assemble the pastel:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the shredded chicken with two-thirds of the poblano strips (reserve ⅓ for topping).
- Pour oil to a depth of ½ inch in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
- Heat to low frying temperature, about 300°F.
- Place each tortilla in the oil and fry for a few seconds, just long enough to soften.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Butter or oil a shallow ovenproof casserole that will accommodate 4 tortillas in a single slightly overlapping layer (about 8 1⁄2 inches x 12 inches, 22 cm x 29 cm). The casserole should be suitable for serving.
- Spread a few tablespoons tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole.
- Place 4 softened tortillas in a single layer on top of the tomato sauce, followed by half of the poblano/chicken mixture, a third of the remaining tomato sauce, ½ cup crema Mexicana, and ½ cup queso asadero.
- Layer with 4 more tortillas, the remaining chicken/poblano mixture, a third of the tomato sauce, ½ cup crema Mexicana, and ½ cup queso asadero.
- Top with the last 4 tortillas and remaining tomato sauce, crema Mexicana, and queso asadero.
- Decorate the top with the reserved poblano strips.
- Bake in preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the pastel is heated through, 15–20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and garnish with chopped tomato. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
Reprinted from Enchiladas: Aztec to Tex-Mex Copyright © 2015 by Cappy Lawton and Chris Waters Dunn. published by Trinity University Press.