That's what happened to me. I made Pastel Azteca for years and years, without even realizing it. I thought I was just making an Enchilada Casserole -- my quick and easy way to make enchiladas, without all of the fuss (and mess) of rolling the enchiladas. My kiddies call it Mexican Lasagna, because of all the layers, especially when I make it with ground beef. But it wasn't until we moved to Mexico that I learned that this dish is actually called Pastel Azteca.
Whatever you decide to call it, I'm sure it will quickly become a family favorite, with it's layers of golden corn tortillas, rich red enchilada sauce, tender pieces of chicken, and lots of bubbling melted cheese.
(Enchilada Casserole / Mexican Lasagna)
- 3 Roma tomatoes, cut in halves
- 1 medium onion, cut in half
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 dried ancho chilies
- 1 dried chipotle chile
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 16 Corn Tortillas
- Vegetable Oil (for frying)
- Queso Fresco
- 1 cup Mexican Crema
- 1 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or your favorite blend)
If you haven't already done so, cook the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (I cook mine in a 3-quart stockpot with 6 to 8 cups of water, 1/2 of a medium onion, a clove of garlic, a sprig of cilantro, and salt and pepper.) Once the chicken is done, shred the chicken and set aside.
To prepare the sauce, place the tomato halves, the onion, garlic, and dried chilies in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the seeds and stems from the chilies. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilies and 1 cup of the cooking water until smooth. Pour the sauce into a medium saucepan or bowl; season with salt.
Ladle enough sauce into a 9-inch square baking dish to cover the bottom; set aside.
Heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the corn tortillas, one at a time, for about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the tortillas to a heatproof plate until you've finished frying all of the tortillas.
Arrange 4 of the fried corn tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish. (The tortillas will overlap slightly.) Ladle an additional 1/2 cup of the sauce on top of the tortillas, making sure the sauce makes it all the way to the edge, adding more sauce if necessary.
Top with shredded chicken, crumbled queso fresco and a couple of dollops of sour cream. (To really jazz up this Pastel Azteca, you can add chopped onion, roasted poblano pepper slices, and golden kernels of corn to each layer! That's how I like it, but Hubby and the kiddies prefer it simple.)
Repeat for 2 additional layers, topping the third layer with the last of the fried tortillas. Top the tortillas with more sauce, crumbled queso fresco, and shredded manchego cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese has melted and starts to turn a light golden brown.
Be sure to visit Girlichef's blog to check out her Pastel Azteca with shredded pork, black beans, and smoky chipotle peppers!