Guest Post: Chicken Tamale Casserole from Elefantitas Alegres

While Nick and I are spending time with our Peanut, I would like to introduce you to a few of my lovely blog friends.

I first “met” Kate when she recapped her Anthropolgie-inspired wedding for EAD. And now I’m hooked on her blog, Elefantitas Alegres. Her life is full of adventures — both of the international and at home variety — and I promise she will make you laugh out loud. She’s also quite the home chef and is expecting her own wee one in a few months!

Hello there! Kate here, from Elefantitas Alegres {It’s Spanish… not a disfigurative disease… pinky-swear!}. For those of you I haven’t had the pleasure of “meeting,” I’m a late-twenty-something, wannabe-hippie attorney and mama-to-be with a penchant for patio sitting, home chefery, and all things cheese. Most importantly, I’m pleased as punch to be a guest on The Culinary Couple as Nick and Emily welcome their wee Peanut into the world!

While I can’t say I know Emily and Nick in “real life,” I’d like to think we’d be fast friends if geography wasn’t so pesky. And if Dallas and Central PA were next door neighbors, this is the meal I’d be popping over to relieve the new parents of kitchen duty — my tried and true So You Just Had a Baby! Chicken Tamale Casserole.


{image courtesy of Cooking Light}

I love this dish because, unlike most traditional casseroles, it’s relatively light, boasts varying textures, and is easily adaptable from canned to fresh ingredients. I’ve included the packaged options along with the fresh just in case you’re pinched for time, but I don’t think you’ll regret the 20 extra minutes in the kitchen for the fresh flavors!

So You Just Had a Baby! Chicken Tamale Casserole

{inspired by Cooking Light}

Ingredients for Tamale Base

  • 1.5 c. of corn muffin mix {I prefer Bob’s Red Mills}
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • kernels scrapped from 2 small ears of corn
  • ½ c. milk {any fat content will do; use skim for a lighter dish}
    Time Crunch Substitute: 1 15oz. can creamed corn, but reduce milk to 1/3 c.
  • 3 Hatch {or Anaheim or Poblano} peppers, roasted, deseeded and deveined, and chopped finely
    Time Crunch Substitute: 2 4oz. cans of chopped green chiles, drained
  • ½ c. Pepper Jack cheese, grated
  • ¼ T. ancho chile powder
  • ½ T. cumin

Ingredients for Enchilada Sauce

  • 1.5 T. vegetable oil
  • ½ T. flour
  • 1/8 c. chili powder
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 5 oz. tomato paste
  • ½ t. cumin
  • ½ t. ancho chile powder
  • ¼ t. salt
    Time Crunch Substitute: 1 10oz can of your favorite red enchilada sauce

Ingredients for Chicken & Cheese Topping

  • Meat from one natural rotisserie chicken, skin removed and shredded
  • 2 c. Pepper Jack cheese, grated


To form tamale base… Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fold eggs, corn kernels and milk {or creamed corn} into corn muffin mix. Add the rest of the “tamale base” ingredients and combine. Pour into a greased one 9×13 or two 8×8 inch baking dishes. {I like to go the 8×8 route and bake one / freeze one!} Bake for 30 minutes, or until the middle of the mix is firm. {It will still be super moist, so don’t rely on the ol’ toothpick trick… You’re just looking for “un-jiggle-ability!”}

While tamale base bakes, cook the enchilada sauce. In a small saucepan over Medium, heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce will thicken a bit and smooth out. Adjust seasonings and set aside to cool a bit.

The finishing touches… Pierce tamale base all over with a fork. Pour the majority of the enchilada sauce over the tamale base, then top with shredded chicken and cheese. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the whole kit-n-caboodle.

Casserole can either be baked immediately for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or wrapped and frozen for future consumption! I froze the dish below for a dear friend expecting a baby girl right around Peanut’s due date.

To bake from frozen… Remove all plastic wrap and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until heated through.

Congratulations, Emily and Nick, on your new bundle of joy! I can’t wait to see what the three of you cook up together.

7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Chicken Tamale Casserole from Elefantitas Alegres

  1. YUM! I made this last night to bring to some friends who are having a “bring frozen items for our chest freezer” baby shower tonight. We had some for dinner and were very very impressed (and thinking about never buying canned enchilada sauce again). What a perfect, delicious recipe!

  2. oh my gosh – just made this for the first time – SOOOOOOOOOOOO good. I’ve never liked red enchilada sauce, guess I should’ve been making my own all along.

  3. Made this last night – one for my friends with a newborn and one for me. It was EXCELLENT! I took mine to a neighbor’s house for dinner and everyone raved that it was light and delicious. Followed the recipe to a T – I used Marie Callendar’s original corn bread mix (one 1 lb. package was enough for two 9×13 recipes), fat free milk, cooked fresh corn on the cob, roasted my own peppers (mix of Anaheim and Poblano) and made extra enchilada sauce to moisten after cooking (not that it needed it – mainly because I love condiments and this sauce was delicious!) It was time consuming so I would recommend making one for yourself if you are making one to give away – very well worth the time and I will definitely be usign this recipe again. Tip: to roast the peppers, core and seed them, flatten them, lightly brush with oil, then broil for about 10 minutes or until the skins bubble and are evenly blackened. Then use tongs to place in a plastic bag. Let them sit for about 20 minutes or so and then peel the skins. I threw mine in a food processor to finely chop. Also, I beat the eggs, then added the milk and seasonings and mixed so that seasonings were evenly distributed. Then mixed in shredded cheese, corn and poblanos and added muffin mix last.

  4. 40 minutes from frozen is NO WHERE NEAR ENOUGH. It was still frozen in the middle. Had to cook an extra 30 minutes to get it heated. Apparently, I got overzealous when shredding the rotisserie chicken and included quite a bit of gristle. My first 5 bites (after I finally got it cooked all the way through) included hard spots, which grosses me out. I won’t make this again, or if I do, I’ll cook chicken breasts in the crock pot for shredding.

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