Pastel Azteca

Pastel AztecaI have been asked in the past if all I ate growing up in Mexico was tacos and burritos. That assumption has never offended me, though. I understand that a lot of people in the USA have that impression thanks to Taco Bell and other food chains. But that is as wrong as thinking that Americans only eat hamburgers and hotdogs, though many people in Mexico believe that.

Most of the “Mexican” food I’ve encountered up here is unfamiliar to me. Burritos, chimichangas, hard shell tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, chalupas and so many others were either new to me or completely different than their original versions and none of them are the main entrée on a typical Mexican table. Most of them are considered snacks or fritangas.

In my parents’ restaurant I learned that Mexican cuisine has a great variety of dishes and tastes, not everything is spicy, either. They had a different menu every day that rotated throughout the month (those kinds of restaurants are known as “fondas”) and my dad always included at least one new dish a month. One of my all time favorite recipes is a tortilla and chicken casserole that was seldom part of the menu. My mom reserved it for special occasions, the delicious pastel (cake) Azteca.

As with almost every recipe, there is an easy and a not so easy way to prepare it. Here is the typical way to prepare it. The shortcuts are at the end of the recipe.

Pastel Azteca
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
•The spiciness of this recipe will depend on the amount of chipotle adobado peppers you use. You may not use any at all if you don’t like spicy food. •If you’d like a crunchy casserole, don’t bake it, just let it sit for about 10 minutes after pouring the tomato sauce. Just make sure the sauce is hot so the cheese melts.
  • •1 chicken breast shredded
  • •1 lb Roma tomatoes
  • •1 medium size onion
  • •3 garlic cloves peeled
  • •1-2 canned chipotle adobado peppers
  • •24 corn tortillas
  • •3 cups chicken broth
  • •8 oz. Chihuahua cheese shredded 2 cups approx.
  • •Salt to taste
  1. Cut tortillas in triangles (quarters) and fried them in batches until they turn hard, Mexican restaurant style.
  2. Blend together tomatoes, ¾ of the onion, garlic and adobado peppers using one cup of chicken broth.
  3. In a large pot pour the tomato mix.
  4. Add the rest of the chicken broth and salt and let it simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir constantly.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  6. Cut the rest of the onion in thin slices.
  7. Place a layer of tortilla chips at the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish using ⅓ of the tortillas.
  8. Add another layer using half of the shredded chicken, ⅓ of the sliced onion and ⅓ of shredded cheese.
  9. Pour some of the tomato sauce.
  10. Add another layer of ingredients, tortilla chips, cheese, onion and the rest of the chicken.
  11. Finish up with a layer of tortilla chips and onion.
  12. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce.
  13. Top off with the remaining cheese.
  14. Bake for 25 minutes.
  15. Shortcuts:
  16. Use a 16 oz bag of tortilla chips instead of frying your own tortillas. Just be careful with the amount of salt you use since most commercial tortilla chips are already salted.
  17. Instead of boiling and shredding your own chicken, buy chicken bits. I personally don’t like the precooked packaged chicken. There’s nothing like the flavor of chicken breasts boiled with the bone, salt, onion and garlic. You can even make your own chicken broth that way.
  18. Use a shredded Mexican cheese blend found in grocery stores if you don’t find Chihuahua cheese.
  19. Use a prepared enchilada sauce found in the Mexican food isle of your grocery store. I am not sure about this last shortcut. I have never used any kind of prepared sauce before so I wouldn’t know what the result would be like. But if you don’t have enough time to prepare your own sauce, I guess it’s a valid shortcut.




I have a list of typical Christmas Mexican recipes I am going to make in the next weeks that I will be posting here. So stay tuned if you want to have a tasty twist in your Holiday cooking.

Buen provecho!


  • Ben, I am so glad that you stopped by my blog and helped me to discover yours! There is so much I am going to learn from you!

    Making the paneer is really easy and you should give it a try. You can also add your own flavourings to it, just follow the link from where I got the recipe. The blogger has variations and I too plan to experiement when next I make it.

    Thanks again for visiting and your very kind comments. Truly appreciated.

    Looking forward to your future posts.

    • Thanks. I think there is so much I can learn from you, too. Just learning about the paneer is a good start.

      Thanks for the visit 😀

  • I will be trying this soon! It sounds very much like an enchilada recipe I made but it used enchilada sauce. I will be trying it with the chipotle canned chiles. Sounds really good!

    • This is one of my favorite recipes ever. I have made some modifications to my mom’s recipe, though. For example, she didn’t bake it and she never used commercial tortilla chips. I heard that it can be made with dogfish and beans, also. I might try that in the future.

  • Ooh, that looks so good! I’ve used the store-bought enchilada sauce before, and it’s actually not too bad. I like the little powder packets (where you just add water) better, though- they taste a little more “real.”

    I understand about the “taco bell” thing, too- I moved to a small city in the South over a year ago, and when I told them I was used to eating Mexican and Mexican-American foods, they thought I meant, like, nachos and “taco salad” (with FRITOS…ugh). Of course, I’m still convinced all they eat is fried chicken and barbecue, so I guess we’re both at fault. lol.

    • LOL. Sometimes we assume things we shouldn’t, but finding out about other people’s eating habits is always exciting.
      Thanks for visiting my blog. I already commented on your last entry. I hope to see you around again 😀

  • Ben, this sounds very good and another I’ll definitely try. Although the short cuts are helpful — I’m with you on the regular method. I know my sister would like this one, too, so I’m sending her your link. That woman loves spicy food. The hotter, the better. And thanks for your input yesterday on my er…um…”show.” I had so much fun, and your participation make it even more so.

    • Your show was so much fun. You should do it again soon. If I weren’t as timid I would put one on. LOL
      And yeah, this recipe is really good. One of my all time favorites!


  • That looks wonderful! real Mexican food is very hard to find.

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

    • I know it is hard to find real Mexican food. I hope I can share a little of what I learn in my parents’ restaurant.

      I will be posting about the Foodie Blogroll soon, along with a pumpkin mole I made for the contest 😀

      Thanks for the visit

  • Hi Ben! Nice to meet you yesterday through Kelly’s show! I am glad I discovered your blog, so many recipes I have already bookmarked! Thanks!

    • Hi Tartelette!

      It was a very nice show and the people there very funny and nice, too. Thanks for the visit. You are welcome to visit anytime you want.


  • […] Ben wrote an interesting post today on Pastel AztecaHere’s a quick excerptMost of the “Mexican” food I’ve encountered up here is unfamiliar to me. Burritos, chimichangas, hard shell tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, chalupas and so many others were either new to me or completely different than their original … […]

  • Ben,
    I made this dish for my in-laws last Sunday – What a hit! They all loved it and have requested your recipe. This was so easy and so good; I used the whole can of chipotle adabado peppers as my family likes it hot. I did use a few of the shortcuts at the end including the prepared enchilada sauce and corn taco shells broke in half. I made it in a bigger casserole than suggested so I ended up using 3 or 4 chicken breasts but otherwise stayed true to the recipe and it was FABULOUS! I know this will be an often requested dish in the future. Thank you for sharing your family’s recipe!

  • Hey Ben, really enjoy reading authentic Mexican recipes, it’s my favorite cuisine. I have a really stupid question to ask: How do Mexican people use tortillas to eat, other than in tacos, tostados, etc. Whenever the waiter brings a batch to the table I am stymied. It is too difficult to eat the entire meal as a taco, but by themselves they are fairly bland. Someone told me to break off pieces and use these to enfold food morsels, this would mean using a very large amount of tortillas for a meal. Pardon me for my stupidity.

  • This blog was shared by Themelis Cuiper &:-) – search engine result advert veteran – so you must be doing a wonderful job!

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