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For this one-dish feast, corn tortillas are layered with sliced poached chicken breasts, cilantro, two kinds of cheese and a smoky chile sauce. Amazing Chicken Recipes

March 1998


Credit: © Quentin Bacon

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Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Set a lightly oiled large cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat. Add half of the chiles and cook, pressing occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chiles. Let cool slightly, then remove the stems and seeds and rinse the chiles.

  • In a large bowl, combine the chiles with the 2 cups of boiling water and let soak until softened, about 20 minutes; use a plate to keep the chiles submerged.

  • Meanwhile, lightly oil the cast-iron skillet again. Add the garlic and onion wedges and cook over low heat until lightly charred, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add the chiles with their soaking liquid and puree. Strain through a coarse sieve, pressing hard on the solids with a rubber spatula.

  • In a large pot, cover the chicken breasts with the remaining 6 cups of water and simmer over low heat until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and let cool, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick; reserve 3 cups of the poaching liquid.

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chile puree and 1 cup of the cilantro and cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Scrape the sauce into a large bowl and add the cloves and cinnamon. Season with 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stir in the reserved poaching liquid.

  • In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil over moderate heat. Fry 1 tortilla at a time until it starts to puff up but is still pliable, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer the fried tortillas to a large baking sheet; add more oil to the skillet as needed.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a 15-by-12-inch shallow baking dish, spread 1 cup of the chile sauce. Cover with 8 slightly overlapping tortillas, half of the chicken and 1/4 cup of the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with 2 cups of the sauce and sprinkle with 3/4 cup of each cheese. Continue layering with 8 more tortillas and the remaining chicken and cilantro; press lightly. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 more cups of sauce and sprinkle with another 3/4 cup of each cheese. Finally, press the remaining tortillas onto the pie and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

  • Cover the pan tightly with foil, making sure the foil does not touch the cheese. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serve hot with the sour cream.

Make Ahead

This pie can be prepared through Step 5 up to 2 days ahead.

Suggested Pairing

A hearty Sonoma or Napa Valley Zinfandel is one of the few red wines with enough fruit and spice to match the intensity and rustic flavors of this pie.