Mexican Mucbil Pollo (Chicken Tamale Casserole)

"Instead of individual tamales make this into a casserole. This is a winner, even if you use foil instead of banana leaves. Achiote, a condiment available in Mexican or Asian markets, adds mild flavor and deep red color to the pie. However, included here is some easy to make alternates if you can’t find it."
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Ready In:
3hrs 30mins




  • Put achiote condiment or paste in a 6 to 8 quart pan. Use a heavy spoon to work condiment into a smooth paste, gradually adding a little of the water and mixing until well blended. Add remaining water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, then pour liquid through a fine wire strainer and return to pan; discard residue in strainer. (If you are using achiote substitute, it is not necessary to strain the broth.).
  • To broth, add anise seeds, mint, and chicken, placing chicken on top. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes; do not stir.
  • Core tomatoes and cut each into 6 wedges. After chicken has cooked for 25 minutes, add onions. After 10 more minutes, add tomatoes alongside onions.
  • At end of cooking time, remove pan from heat. Gently lift out vegetables and chicken, letting broth drain back into pan. When chicken is cool to touch, remove and discard skin and bones. Tear meat into bite size pieces.
  • Boil broth over highest heat, uncovered, until reduced to 2 cups; stir to prevent sticking. (if using achiote substitute, add masa flour water mixture and return to a boil, stirring.) Remove from heat.
  • Grease a 3-quart shallow casserole; evenly spread about half the Masa dough (you need 5 cups dough total) over bottom and sides of casserole, flush with rim. Add chicken, tomatoes, onions, and eggs, distributing evenly, then cover with broth. Shake dish gently to level filling.
  • Gently spoon dollops of remaining dough on top, then spread carefully to enclose filling; don’t worry if a few thin areas develop and bits of filling show. Cover tightly with foil. Bake on lowest rack of a 425°F oven for 30 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake until top is golden brown, about 1 more hour.
  • Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Accompany with radishes and green onions. Makes 8 servings.
  • MASA DOUGH: Double recipe above and whip lard, butter, margarine, or solid vegetable shortening until fluffy, then stir in dehydrated masa flour and homemade chicken broth or canned regular strength chicken or beef broth. Stir until mixture holds together. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using.
  • ACHIOTE SUBSTITUTE: Mix 2 tablespoons vinegar, 3 tablespoons paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves, 3 cloves garlic (pressed), and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
  • ACHIOTE PASTE: Place 2 ounces (1/3 cup) achiote )annatto sees (available in Mexican markets) in a small bowl with boiling water to cover; cover tightly and let stand for at least 12 hours to soften.
  • Drain seeds and discard liquid. Combine seeds in a blender with 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons ground allspice, 2 tablespoons chopped garlic, 2 small dried hot red chiles (broken into pieces),1/2 teaspoon salt, and 6 tablespoons EACH orange juice and white wine vinegar.
  • Whirl until smooth (takes several minutes). If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days; freeze for longer storage. Makes about 1 cup.
  • The Best Of Sunset.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I tried this today and I love the flavors. The only problem I had was that it dried out and the crust became hard. I think if I would have cooked it less, it would not have been cooked through. I think I will try a water bath next time to see if that helps.
  2. This was really good. I was rather confused about the recipe for the masa, so I used Recipe #16718 instead and it seemed to be fine. Thanks, Olga!
  3. A winner for sure! I have allways loved tamales, even as a child. But making them myself was not possible because of the lack of available banana leaves. This recipe has all the flavor of tamales in the convience of a casserole. ( I read some where that there isn't a spanish word for "casserole" so the term in spanish translated means "dry soup") anyway, I did alter this for my ingredients by using boneless porkloin, the option of achiote substitute, and I also used a layer of homemade frejoles before adding the meat layer on top. I also learned quickly that the last hour of cooking was too long for my oven. So I cut the time back to 30 minutes. I also omitted the mint since I didn't have any. I will be making this again with chicken. Thank you for a delicious recipe, which was enjoyed by all my children.



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