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Baked Egg Casserole

Baked Egg Casserole
Cazuela de Huevos

Serves: 4

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Cazuela de Huevos" />


Vegetable oil, for frying eggs

8 eggs

Kosher or coarse sea salt, to taste

3 cups refried beans

8 slices of turkey or ham

1 batch of salsa ranchera

2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated cheese such as Oaxaca, mozzarella or Monterrey Jack

To Prepare

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Once hot, crack in 4 eggs, sprinkle with salt, and cover with a lid. Cook for about 3 minutes, until eggs are set, but not fully done, and the yolk is gooey. Repeat with the remaining 4 eggs, or make two skillets at once.

In an individual casserole, ovenproof bowl or large ramekin, spoon 3/4 cup refried beans, add a slice of turkey or ham, and a pair of the cooked eggs. Ladle in a generous amount of salsa ranchera to completely cover, and add shredded cheese on top. Assemble the rest of the casseroles. Alternatively, it can be made in a large casserole for everyone to share.

Place in the oven until the cheese has completely melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.


Chipotle Chicken Pasta Casserole

Chipotle Chicken Pasta Casserole
Cazuela de Pasta con Pollo y Chipotle

Serves: 6 to 8

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Cazuela de Pasta con Pollo y Chipotle" />


1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped white onion

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, divided, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste to season chicken

2 tablespoons sauce from chipotles in adobo, or to taste

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded, or to taste, optional

1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound penne or elbow pasta

3 cups chicken broth, homemade or store bought

2 cups (8 ounces) grated melty cheese, such as Oaxaca, Monterey Jack or mozzarella

1 ripe Mexican avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and cut into slices (optional for garnish)

Mexican crema, Latin-style cream, crème fraiche or sour cream (optional for garnish)

To Prepare

Place the tomatoes and garlic in a medium (3-quart) saucepan and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat and simmer until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked and the skins have started to come off, about 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and garlic, along with 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, to a blender or food processor. Once it has cooled slightly, add the onion, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, adobo sauce, and chipotle chile if using, and puree until smooth.

Sprinkle chicken with oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large, deep and thick casserole or skillet set over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the chicken thighs about 2 to 3 minutes per side until browned. Remove from skillet, reserve in a bowl.

Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the casserole, set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pasta. Fry the pasta for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until browned, but not burnt, and it smells toasty. Pour the tomato puree over the pasta. It will jump all over the casserole, so you may want to use the lid as a shield over the casserole. Stir, cover partially and let the sauce cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it darkens and cooks into a thick puree consistency.

Nest the browned chicken thighs in the pasta, pour the chicken broth on top, stir gently, cover tightly, reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the lid, sprinkle the cheese all over the pasta and place the casserole uncovered in the oven. Bake anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted and begun to lightly brown. Serve hot. You may garnish with avocado slices and Mexican crema. Cut into thick slices and serve as you would a cake, since there will be a light crust on the bottom and sides and top.


Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamal Casserole

Chicken in Salsa Verde Tamal Casserole
Cazuela de Tamal de Pollo en Salsa Verde

Serves: 12

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Cazuela de Tamal de Pollo en Salsa Verde" />


Vegetable oil to grease the baking dish

1 batch of corn dough or masa from tamal recipe

1 batch salsa verde (recipe follows)

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 1/2 cups Mexican crema, or Latin-style cream, crème fraiche or sour cream

2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated Oaxaca cheese, mozzarella or Monterey Jack

To Prepare

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a large baking dish with oil. Spread half of the tamal dough or masa in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside 3/4 cup of salsa verde and combine the rest with the shredded chicken. Spread the chicken and salsa verde mix on top of the masa. Cover with the rest of the masa in a second layer. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for an hour.

Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and spread on the remaining 3/4 cup of salsa verde. Top with the cream and cheese. Place back in the oven, uncovered, for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese completely melts and begins to brown along the edges. Serve hot, cut into squares.


Salsa Verde

Serves: makes about 4 cups


2 pounds green tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed

2 garlic cloves

2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, or more to taste

1 cup cilantro, leaves and upper stems

1/4 cup roughly chopped white onion

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil

To Prepare

Place the tomatillos along with the garlic cloves and chiles in a pot and add enough water to cover. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatillos change in color from bright green to a pale green, are cooked through, and are soft but are not coming apart.

Transfer the tomatillos, garlic, chile (you may want add only 1 chile at first), and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to a blender and puree until smooth. Incorporate the cilantro leaves, onion and salt and process again. Taste for salt and add more if need be. Also taste for heat, you may add the other chile in pieces until you reach your desired heat level.

In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, pour the oil. Once hot, pour in the salsa verde, bring to a simmer and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until it thickens a bit and deepens its flavor and color. Turn off the heat.

Allow to cool to room temperature and serve. Or, once it cools down, you may store it in a closed container in the refrigerator for weeks.


Tuna Minilla Casserole

Tuna Minilla CasseroleCazuela de Minilla de Atún

Serves: 8 to 10

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1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup chopped white onion

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 6 Roma tomatoes), chopped

2 7-ounce cans tuna, drained and shredded

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

1/4 cup roughly chopped raisins

1/4 cup roughly chopped manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos

1/4 cup seeded and roughly chopped pickled jalapeño chiles, store-bought or make your own

1 tablespoon capers

3 tablespoons chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

1 1.2-pound package frozen puff pastry, thawed, or homemade puff pastry

All-purpose flour, for rolling out the puff pastry

1 egg (optional)

2 tablespoons water (optional)

To Prepare

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until completely cooked, softened and mashed-up and pasty looking, about 15 minutes.

Toss in the tuna, and with a spatula or wooden spoon, mix it well with the tomato mixture, making sure there are no big chunks. Add the bay leaves, brown sugar, oregano, thyme, salt and mix well. Add the raisins, olives, pickled jalapenos, capers, fresh parsley and mix well. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for about 10 minutes, the mixture should be very moist but not watery. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Remove the bay leaves and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out 1 thawed sheet of pastry about 1/8-inch thick to line the bottom and sides of a round baking dish (you may wish to add a pastry sheet in the bottom and top of the casserole, or only on the top!). Add the tuna filling to the puff pastry lined baking dish, using a rubber spatula to evenly spread the filling. Roll out another thawed sheet of pastry and use to cover the tuna filling – pinching the edges of the 2 sheets of pastry together to seal.

Optional: In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg along with the water. Brush the top of the casserole with the egg wash.

Cut 4 to 5 vents on the top. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until crisp, puffed up and golden brown.


February 15, 2012

Every few months, my family gets together with a Latin group of friends and their families for a pot luck.

This winter it was our turn. As tradition goes, the host brings the main dishes to the table and the others bring the rest. I eagerly announced my plans to share Mexican casseroles, also called cazuelas, budines or pasteles. The Mexicans couldn’t hide their joy- “Pati! De veras? Budin Azteca? Cazuela de Tamal?!”- and quickly thought of other “very” Mexican sides to pair with them. The Argentines and Costa Ricans tried to understand what “Mexican casserole” meant and whether it was supposed to be any good. The Americans in the group (though they consider themselves Latin) were clearly not excited about it.

No doubt about it, casseroles have had their ups and downs in culinary history. Their weakest stand seems to have been in the United States, after being fashioned into “two-step-many-can” versions in the 1930 and ’40s. But think of all the bright stars in the casserole universe: French cocottes enveloped in mother sauces; British potpies encrusting fillings as wet as British weather; irresistible Italian lasagnas layered with pasta; Peruvian causas with seasoned meat encased in mashed potatos; Greek spanakopitas with an extra-savory cheese-spinach mix covered with phyllo dough; Middle Eastern moussakas stacked with layers of eggplant; and the not-so-well-known, yet gloriously tasty Mexican cazuelas…

Continue reading Make It, Freeze It, Take It: The Mexican Casserole

Cazuela de Arroz con Rajas de Chile Poblano
Serves 10

4 cups cooked white rice
2 tbsp butter and a bit more to butter the baking dish
1 cup white onion, slivered
3 poblano chiles, about 3/4 lb, charred, skinned, stemmed, seeded, and sliced. Click here for more information on how to prepare them
1 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, thawed from frozen or canned and drained
1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1/2 cup Mexican style cream, or Latin, Salvadorean, creme fraiche or heavy cream
1/2 cup queso fresco, can substitute with farmers, basket or ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup Monterey jack, light cheddar or mozzarella, shredded

Place the butter in a saute pan set over medium heat. Once it melts, add the slivered onion and allow it to sweat for about 12 minutes, until translucent and soft. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the chile poblano rajas or strips, corn, salt and black pepper and cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the cream and queso fresco and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until the sauce thickens a bit and seasons, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 8 x 11 or 9 x 9 baking dish. Layer the white rice in the baking dish and press it down gently with a spatula. Pour the poblano mixture on top. For the last layer, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

Bake the casserole in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted. Serve hot.

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