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Pastel Azteca (or Aztec Pie) {she made, ella hace}

So.  Last month when my friend Leslie and I were tossing around what we should make for she made, ella hace this month, she suggested Pastel Azteca.  Huh?  I had never heard of it before.  But if you know me at all, you know that alone was enough to make me say YES!  I love making new-to-me dishes and trying new foods.  Plus, Leslie said it was a favorite meal of her family's.  And since one of the reasons I wanted to team up with Leslie every month was because we had such similar taste in food, I was pretty sure it would become a favorite around here, as well.  So, it was on.  Pastel Azteca in the very near future.

So I began searching and scouring and trying to located recipes for Pastel Azteca.  I had some luck.  But not as much as I would have thought.  Until I came across a site that also referenced Pastel Azteca as Aztec Pie.  So I searched Aztec Pie and BAM! (Sorry, that's so Emeril.)  All sorts of results.  It was basically what I expected since Leslie had described it as sort of a lasagna-style dish, the tortillas taking the place of the noodles.  It's almost like a cross between lasagna and chilaquiles.
I found versions with shredded chicken and corn tucked between the layers of corn tortillas and enchilada sauce.  I found other versions with fire-roasted poblanos chiles blended with tangy tomatillos and cool sour cream separating the layers.  I didn't know which version to start with.  So I decided to go with one of my own.  I had a container of shredded pork beckoning me from the fridge from a loin that I'd let cook all day in the crockpot a few days prior.  I didn't have any corn in the house like I'd seen tumbling out of so many layers, but I'd recently made some black beans.  And I like black beans with pork, so I decided to tuck those in, as well.  Paired with some melting Queso Quesedilla, I figured I'd give my first try a go.

Oh.  My.  Lawdy.  The layers of goodness infused with a simple, yet flavorful sauce and gooey, melted cheese?  That right there is some comfort food we could all enjoy!  And I recognized the taste and texture.  I had heard of Pastel Azteca before.  Only growing up, we called it tortilla casserole or enchilada casserole.  Well, duh!  I'd forgotten all about it.
I'm so happy that Leslie suggested this!  And now I really, really want to try her version!  Her sauce is more enchilada-ey than mine...two different types of chiles blended with sour cream to make this deep, brick red liquid.  Yeah, my mouth was completely watering when I saw hers.  Plus, I really want to try a verde (green) version using those roasted poblanos and tomatillos I mentioned.  Again with the sour cream.

I couldn't be happier that Leslie reminded me of this dish that I grew up enjoying.  And now my kids will get to do the same thing!

Pastel Azteca (Aztec Pie)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Keywords: bake fry entree tortillas tomatoes Mexican Southwest

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
  • 12 corn tortillas, fried until crisp
  • 1 c. cooked, shredded pork (or chicken or beef)
  • 1 c. cooked black beans (or other variety)
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small onion (size of a fat lime), peeled & quartered
  • 3 chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 1½ c. chicken stock/broth
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ~6 oz. Queso Quesadilla, shredded (or Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or Mozzarella)
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place the tomatoes and their juices in the jar of a blender. Roast the onion and garlic cloves under a broiler until charred in spots. Add to jar of blender. Blend to a smooth puree. Pour into a medium-sized pot. Pour chicken stock or broth into the blender jar and swirl it around to get all of the juices off the sides. Pour into pot, as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer ~10 minutes.

In a 9" cake pan, spread four of the fried tortillas. They will overlap. Scatter half of the shredded pork (or other meat) over the tortillas. Spread half of the black beans over the pork. Ladle ⅓ of the sauce evenly over everything. Scatter ⅓ of the cheese over that.

Repeat layer exactly as above.

Top with remaining four fried tortillas, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

Slide into preheated oven and bake for ~25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with a big dollop of sour cream, a scattering of cilantro, and a crisp green salad on the side. Oh, and a cold cerveza to wash it all down.

Feel free to change up and/or add to the fillings. Substitute the shredded pork for shredded chicken or beef (or leave out the meat all together). Add to or replace the beans with another variety or with corn kernels. Scatter thinly sliced onion or roasted, chopped poblano chiles between the layers. You could also make a green sauce/salsa. Make it your favorite!
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I hope you'll head over to Leslie's place to check out her version of Pastel Azteca!

What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
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