Tamal Cooked in a Clay Pot-MainPhoto

Tamal Cooked in a Clay Pot-MainPhoto

Many of us have fond memories of a tamalada (where family and friends participate in the fun, although labor-intensive process of preparing and assembling tamales.)

Now imagine combining the flavor, essence, and cultural heritage of tamales with the concept of an easier casserole recipe. Less steps are involved and you wind up with a great dish for your family or a holiday potluck! The filling can be based on the ingredients listed or you can even use leftovers you have on hand.

This easy-to-make, family-style recipe is as delicious as individually-wrapped tamales…without the pain of making them!

Read Related: Tamales Secrets From the Experts

Yield: 1 cazuela

½ lb Chicken breasts (bone and skin-on)
1½ White onion
4 Garlic cloves, peeled
4 Poblano chiles
2 lb Roma tomatoes
¼ Bunch fresh Epazote
2.2 lb Fresh masa for tamales (Or reconstituted masa harina according to the packing instructions)
10 oz Lard
1½ TSP Baking powder
Salt to taste


  1. Cover the chicken, onion, and garlic with water in a medium saucepan. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is tender, about 45 min. Remove the chicken; strain and reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Discard the skin and bones of the chicken and finely shred. Reserve.
  3. Fire-roast or fry the poblano chiles. Remove stems and discard peel and seeds. Dice the chiles. Reserve.
  4. Place the tomatoes, remaining onion and garlic in a saucepan, add ¾ cup of water, cover with a lid and simmer until the tomatoes are slightly burst open. Transfer the vegetables to a blender, process until smooth.
  5. In a saucepan heat the oil and fry the tomato mixture, cook stirring until it changes color and foam subsides, add the tomato cooking liquid, epazote sprigs and season with salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes. Discard the epazote sprigs. Add the shredded chicken and diced poblano chiles. Mix to combine.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325º F.
  7. Using a stand mixer, whip up the lard with a pinch of salt; mix in the masa little by little and the baking powder. Beat for 10 minutes at medium low speed; add enough chicken broth to make a thick porridge, about 1-1 ½ cup. Beat for 15 minutes at medium low speed.
  8. Lightly grease a deep baking dish or, a 2 qt ovenproof casserole with lard. Spread half of the masa mixture on the bottom and cover with the chicken mixture. Place the rest of the masa on top. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil.
  9. Bake until the tamal is fully cooked and heated through, about 45 minutes.