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Chicken, Salsa Verde and Tortilla Casserole (Pastel Azteca)
Though pastel azteca translates from the Spanish as “Aztec cake,” the dish often is referred to in English as Mexican lasagna, enchilada casserole or tortilla pie—and understandably so. It is comprised of corn tortillas layered with sauce, meat, cheeses, crema (a cultured cream similar to crème fraîche) and vegetables; a stint in the oven brings together all the elements. Our recipe is an adaptation of the pastel azteca taught to us in Mexico City by chef Esmerelda Brinn Bolaños. We swapped chicken thighs for the dark-meat turkey that she used and found readily available substitutes for the locally made Mexican cheeses. We opted for pepper Jack cheese because of its melting qualities and mild spiciness; if you prefer, use regular Jack cheese or even mozzarella. To assemble and bake the casserole, we use a 9-inch springform pan for a presentation that reveals the impressive layers and allows for slicing into wedges for serving.
pound poblano chilies
pounds tomatillos, husked and halved
01Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the element. Place the poblanos on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until charred, about 10 minutes. Flip the chilies and broil until charred on the second sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and let steam to loosen the skins while you make the puree and cook the chicken. Turn the oven to 375°F.
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