Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – April 17, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published by myRecipes.com via e-mail on April 8, 2011.

My husband and I went out to eat one night and he ordered tamales.  Now, I’ve traveled around the country and world, but I’ve never eaten a tamale.  Ever.  Even writing this, it makes me kind of sad.  Well he ate it right away and I didn’t get to try it, so I was left wondering until…

I started searching for tamale recipes and you know what?  They’re not easy to make.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest a lot of time in something I won’t want to eat.  When I came across this recipe, I decided to give it a shot.  The writer of the recipe said that she came up with the dish to “satisfy my cravings for the tamales I had at Mexican restaurants when I was growing up in Houston.” I figured someone from Texas would know a good tamale. 

Now, I’m not a fan of cornbread, but my husband is, so I decided to give it a try.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Chicken Tamale Casserole
The piece of casserole looks saucy, cheesy and I just want to eat it.  I took that as a very good sign.  It smelled pretty good too, but the cornbread was the most dominant thing in it, and I’m not a fan.

© Cooking Light

Their crust is gorgeous and it seems like they’ve got the perfect chunks of chicken.  However, mine looks saucier and definitely cheesier.  (I swear I didn’t add anymore than what the recipe called for).


for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – there was hardly any equipment used and barely any prep, but the prep is a mess.  I hate shredding chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken – even if it is the easiest and cheapest route to go.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND AN HOUR – The great news is that over half of it is baking time, so it will give you a chance to throw it in the oven and do after-work chores instead of slaving over a hot stove for an hour straight.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – Yes, there is some prep and technically this rating is given to no prep work at all, but all you have to do is shred some chicken.  You don’t even need a knife.  I couldn’t give it a LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE since there was no chance of that happening.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – All you have to do is bake a basic crust with a very simple batter and then throw some chicken, cheese and sauce on top of it.  Honestly, your kids could make this if you trust them with the oven.

OverallYUMMY – My husband loved it and I thought it tasted good.  Since I’ve never had tamales, I don’t know if it mimics the same thing and to be honest, it tasted very similar to every other Mexican casserole that I’ve made.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 8
No timing

This is going to give you a pretty large serving.  I think we got about 10 servings out of it.  We ate it with a light salad, but you could also go with Mexican rice if you’ve got some.  There was no timing for this recipe, so you’ll have to take my word for it.  One thing, I did my prep work while the crust was cooking (see the recipe notes below), so it isn’t included in the total time.  Here is how my timing came out:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (done while crust cooked so not included in total time)
  • Assemble Crust: 7 minutes
  • Cook Crust: 20 minutes
  • Assemble Casserole: 4 minutes
  • Cook Casserole: 15 minutes
  • Casserole Stand: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 51 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 354
  • Total Fat 14.1g (Saturated Fat 7.1g)
  • Cholesterol 58mg
  • Sodium 620mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 36.3g
  • Fiber 2.5g
  • Protein 18.9g
  • Iron 1.7mg
  • Calcium 179mg
This isn’t bad, especially if you serve it with a salad and make your serving size a little smaller.  It was slightly higher in sodium than I would like, but not bad overall.  I plugged the recipe into Spark Database for verification and here is what I came up with:
  • Calories 305.8
  • Total Fat 7.4g (Saturated Fat 3.8g)
  • Cholesterol 52.9mg
  • Sodium 517.2mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 9.6g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Sugars 3.1g
  • Protein 19.1g
It was pretty close, so I’d go with the slightly high numbers if you’re counting calories or tracking  your meals.  I used reduced fat cheese, so I went ahead and ran the numbers again.  It was slightly less in calories and total fat, but the big change came with the saturated fat which was only 1.8 grams.

Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Chicken Tamale Casserole - ingredients
1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided 

1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

Ingredient Notes:
Cheese – Sargento has started making a reduced fat Mexican cheese, so I used that.  The original recipe called for regular Mexican blend cheese.  If you can’t find it, you can always use a Colby blend.

Corn Muffin Mix – The recipe suggested Martha White corn muffin mix, but I went with Jiffy instead.

Enchilada Sauce – The recipe suggested Old El Paso, but I went with La Preferida Red Chile – Mild.

Chicken Breast – I used a rotisserie chicken and shredded it myself.  If you want to cook a couple of chicken breasts (you’ll probably need around a pound), make sure you give yourself enough time to cook it and shred it – about 20 to 30 minutes extra.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Chicken Tamale Casserole - equipment
Medium bowl
Large bowl
Large spoon – mixing
13x9” baking dish

Equipment Notes:
Medium Bowl and Fork – Use the fork to shred the chicken and the bowl to keep it until use.  You’ll use the fork later to pierce the crust.

Baking Dish – When selecting a “dish” it refers to a glass or ceramic dish that is oven-safe.  You definitely want to go with a dish instead of a metal pan since you are using eggs which can react with a metal pan.

Usually, I have you prep your ingredients first, but since you have to bake your crust and those ingredients don’t require any preparation, start the baking before you prep the rest of the ingredients.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Chicken Tamale Casserole - crust batter
(1)   Make the crust for the casserole
(a) Preheat oven to 400°.
(b) Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist.
(c) Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
(d) Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set.

(2)  Prep the remaining ingredients.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Chicken Tamale Casserole - baked crust
(3)  Pierce entire surface of the crust liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top.

(4)  Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

(5)  Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.

(6)  Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

My husband liked it, but I did ask him if it tasted like a tamale.  He looked at me and said, “What?”  I took that as a no.  I ate a serving, but I wasn’t clamoring for any leftovers.  In fact, I believe I didn’t eat any.  It was really heavy with the crust, so I wasn’t a huge fan.

That being said, I guess I didn’t have enough like for the recipe to think of any changes.  If you enjoy cornbread, you’re going to enjoy this casserole, even if it doesn’t remind you of a tamale.

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