Adapted from Serious Eats Tamal de Cazuela
For masa crust:
- 3 cups masa harina (found in the Mexican or Baking section of the grocery store – Maseca is a widespread brand)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup cold shortening
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
For the filling:
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 Vidalia onions, sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 canned chipotles in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons pepper jelly
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 can of black or pinto beans with liquid
- 1 orange, half zested, then juiced
- 3 tablespoons masa
Make masa dough
Combine masa and chicken stock in a bowl and mix thoroughly until smooth. In another larger bowl, combine shortening, salt, and baking powder. Using a mixer, whip shortening mixture together. Add 1/4 of masa dough into shortening mixture at a time beating between each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat broiler and lightly coat 4 unpeeled cloves of the garlic with olive or canola oil. Roast until soft, about 5 minutes. Peel garlic and set aside. Roughly chop the remaining 2 cloves.
Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove any excess moisture from chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken thighs in batches, and set aside.
Add half of the onions and sauté until soft, charred in spots and golden. Transfer to another container and reserve. Continue to sauté remaining onions, adding more oil as necessary. Add chopped garlic to the pot and sauté until fragrant. Add spices, chipotles and adobo sauce, pepper jelly and tomato paste and sauté until fragrant and darkened slightly. Add orange juice, vinegar and chicken stock and transfer mixture to a blender with roasted garlic. Puree until smooth, then place puree back in the pot with chicken thighs and let mixture simmer until reduced and thickened slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken thighs from the pot and shred. Place back into the pot with the reserved onions, masa, and can of black beans and let simmer for another 10 minutes until thickened and flavors have melded completely.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Rehydrate masa dough by whipping again with a couple of tablespoons of water. Lightly grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet or 3-quart casserole dish. Scrape 2/3 of masa dough into the skillet and press to form an even layer on the bottom and sides of pan. Add 2 cups of the filling, and gently form a top crust with remaining filling, folding the edges down slightly to bind together. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool slightly before serving, then slice and serve with sour cream, hot sauce and cilantro.