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Champandongo from Laura Esquivel's novel Like Water for Chocolate

Champandongo from Like Water for Chocolate

This recipe is adapted from Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate, in which the main character, Tita, imbues her cooking with whatever emotions she happens to be feeling at the moment. This casserole of ground meats, corn tortillas, tomatoes, cheese, and mole is comfort food at its most comforting.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword champandongo, champandongo from like water for chocolate, mexican casserole
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 437 kcal
Author Laura Esquivel and Amanda Gibson


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck or half of a pound ground pork and half of a pound ground chuck
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mole
  • 1 cup queso fresco grated
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • rice and beans for serving
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional garnishes: sliced avocado and cilantro


  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and fry tortillas until softened and bubbly. Remove to a plate, add three more tablespoons of olive oil to skillet.
  2. Sauté meat until browned. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is cooked.
  3. Add tomatoes, nuts, pineapple, mole, cumin and water.
  4. Stir, cooking over medium heat, until mixture is fully cooked and bubbly.
  5. Taste, and salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Pour half and half on bottom of oven-safe dish.
  7. Layer 4 tortillas on cream, overlapping.
  8. Spread half of meat mixture over tortillas.
  9. Layer half of cheese over meat.
  10. Repeat layers of tortillas, meat and cheese, ending with cheese.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling around edges.
  12. Serve with rice and beans.
Nutrition Facts
Champandongo from Like Water for Chocolate
Amount Per Serving
Calories 437 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 171mg7%
Potassium 421mg12%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 414IU8%
Vitamin C 7mg8%
Calcium 151mg15%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.