It's been a more than a week since I last posted in this space. Lots of stuff are going on around at the same time as usual: crafts, and art, lots of sewing, and drawing; as well as the usual home-y duties. Last week was Miss Clara's B-day, she turned 10. I can't believe her first ten years went by so fast!! Still, I get the feeling we're having much more fun at this age than when she was a baby. Well, I guess it's different yet incredibly interesting and fun. Besides the usual party/cake/presents fun, I prepared her favorite dinner, which by the way turned out to be a recipe request by some friends on my usual chatty bits on Facebook. So here we go, this is my original family recipe since there isn't other like it on the web.
The chicken and its stock:
1 large chicken breast, or one and a half.
2 stalks of celery
1 quarter of a large onion
Salt to taste
Boil the chicken with celery, onion, and salt to taste. When the chicken is ready, take it out and shred it. Save the stock for the salsa.
If you want Poblanos peppers to be part of the deal:
2 roasted Poblano peppers as explained here. Just the Poblanos you won’t need the corn or the rest of that recipe.
1 -28 oz. can of crushed tomato, diced, or whole tomatoes work too. I like the crushed tomatoes because the salsa turns out thick and dense.
½ onion. White or purple doesn’t matter.
1or 2 cloves of garlic.
A couple of spoons of Olive oil.
Black ground pepper
A touch of salt if needed.
You’ll also need:
24 + corn tortillas
1 queso fresco grated (Mexican fresh/white cheese)
1 chipotle pepper. Canned in adobo sauce works great. And it’s optional.
And a lasagna pan (9 X 12in)
Blend together the canned tomatoes, the onion and garlic. For a spicy sauce add the chipotle pepper or just a bit of the adobo sauce that comes with it depending on how spicy you want it to be. Heat a medium size pot with a couple of spoons of Olive oil. When the oil is hot enough, add the blended salsa. Add some of the chicken stock until the consistency of the salsa is not too thick and not to watery. Add some ground pepper and a touch thyme and let it break to a medium boil. Let it simmer until the sauce looks more orange than red. Keep in mind that the chicken stock has salt, and taste the sauce before adding any extra salt.
Let it simmer for fifteen minutes more or less.
Get ready your lasagna pan. Preheat your oven at 300F.
Line up your tortillas, shredded chicken, your grated queso fresco, the Poblano pepper strips, and your salsa.
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan, about a half- inch deep of vegetable oil should be enough. It has to be hot enough to make your tortillas sizzle. You’ll be working one tortilla at the time. One tortilla goes into the medium hot oil, let it sizzle for ten seconds, and the turn it over and fry it for another ten seconds. Do not let it get hard like a tortilla chip, this is Pastel Azteca not Chilaquiles. With help of a wooden spoon and another tortilla on your other hand, take the golden half-way fried tortilla out of the frying pan. Let the excess oil drip, and place it on your lasagna pan. The "half-way fry" process will help the tortillas mantain their texture and not to turn into dough after baking the Pastel Azteca. Lay them down, side by side, and cover the bottom of the lasagna pan. When the first layer is done, add a layer of chicken, a layer of salsa, lay some poblano rajas too, queso fresco sprinkled on it. Repeat the same procedure over and over until you have at least four layers. When finished with the layers, make sure the corners of your Pastel Azteca are cover with salsa. This way the corners will not dry up while baking. Cover your pastel Azteca with aluminum foil, and put it in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
When ready take it out of the oven, served it with a side of black beans and enjoy.
Tip: When boiling the chicken breast, make sure you end up with lots of stock. If the salsa gets too thick in the process you can add more stock. If you realize you’ll run out of salsa you can always add a more stock.
I love cooking this meal. It's a once in a while kind of meal, but it's definitely becoming a family favorite.
Honor to whom honor is due: Thanks to Mexico in my Kitchen for sharing so many wonderful recipes with us. It's one of my favorite Mexican cooking blogs. Go check her blog out! For me, it's like being at home.