Pastel Azteca is popular all over Mexico: it's the country's answer to lasagna. And no wonder. With layers of corn tortillas, salsa, shredded chicken, crema, and cheese baked until bubbly, it makes a deeply comforting dish.
This dish is often made for birthday parties, baptisms, or large reunions because it can be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated until needed. Once baked, it can sit for up to 30 minutes and it can be eaten piping hot or just warm.
The beauty of this dish is that it can be made with ingredients that are readily on hand. If you're pressed for time, you can use commercial salsa in this recipe. If you don’t have freshly made tortillas, even better, use day-old tortillas; it won’t hurt the dish at all. The chicken can be made ahead of time or you can use shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If you use these short cuts, it comes together very fast.
Using red or green salsa is your choice. I prefer to make a salsa with tomatoes and tomatillos, which makes a very round flavor combination. It's not supposed to be very spicy but it should offer a bit of a kick. If your guests have more fiery tastes, you can always serve a spicy salsa that can be added once the Pastel Azteca is served.
Pastel Azteca is a versatile dish that can stand alone or be part of a buffet. Make it the next time you have a group of friends coming over. All you need is a side of refried beans and a salad and you have the perfect cold-weather supper.