This is NOT your average cornbread-based tamale pie.
There is nothing bad about a homemade tamale… except maybe the work they take, what with the soaking of the husks and the wrapping and the steaming. That deliciousness is always well worth the effort, but good news – this Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole gives you the same amazing flavor with much less work. And don’t go thinking this is like any old tamale pie that uses a box of cornbread mix. It’s not – it uses actual masa harina and a saucy green chile chicken filling for authentic flavor with very little effort.
This is a layered affair with complex flavor and one of the keys to that is simmering the chicken in the green enchilada sauce and cilantro while you work on the masa to really lock in all that flavor. If you haven’t worked with masa harina before, it’s cornmeal that’s been soaked in calcium hydroxide and then ground very fine. It has a unique flavor, so if you just use regular cornmeal, you’ll be missing something. Try to get the real thing! The masa is mixed with butter, chicken broth, and green chiles until it forms a thick paste that you spread into a baking dish, top with the chicken filling, and another layer of masa.
And of course, there’s cheese too! Just enough Monterey Jack to make this into true comfort food, but not enough to overwhelm the dish. And it’s quite a dish – zesty and packed with true tamale flavor but not a bunch of trouble to make.
Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole
15m prep time
40m cook time
- 3 cups masa harina
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
- 1 (4 oz) can green chiles, drained
- 3 1/4 cup chicken broth, divided
- 4 cups shredded, cooked chicken
- 2 cups green enchilada sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated and divided
- Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat the chicken, 1 cup of the chicken broth, 1 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1/4 cup cilantro, and garlic powder. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, while you work on the masa.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add masa a quarter at a time, beating with an electric mixer in between additions to incorporate. Add green chiles, salt, sugar, baking powder, and pepper and beat to combine.
- Gradually add remaining chicken broth until mixture resembles a thick peanut butter. You do not need to use all the broth, and can add more if needed.
- Press half of the masa mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Top with 3/4 cup of the cheese, then the chicken filling.
- Top with another 3/4 cup of cheese followed by the remaining masa mixture.
- Cover with remaining enchilada sauce and remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and cook 10 minutes more until cheese has fully melted. Serve with fresh cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Life Made Simple Bakes.