Chilate de Pollo, chicken in salsa, is a recipe I came across while searching for Mexican recipes that use Mexican epazote. Fresh epazote(a Mexican herb) is only available to me during the summer at the farmers markets where I live. I purchase a good amount of it and freeze it. When I need to, dried herbs add great flavors as well. Epazote is often used in many traditional Mexican recipes and the flavor is similar to anise, fennel and tarragon. Chiles guajillo, epazote and chicken are the key ingredients for preparing this spicy chicken dish. It’s a cross between a soup and a stew. You could thin it out by adding more broth or thicken it up by adding some masa harina as it simmers. The fiery red color indicates that it’s going to be spicy, and this version was. To prepare a mild version, you could add a couple more guajillos and take out the chile de arbol and piquin. Either way you serve it, it’s so delicious. It is often served with crumbled queso fresco, but I went with a sharp and salty queso cotija.
This recipe for chilate de pollo I originally prepared a few years ago. It was time to revisit this simple and fiery dish that is perfect for these chilly nights.
Chilate de Pollo -Chicken in Salsa
Fiery red chile salsa simmered slowly and combined with simple chicken drumsticks! Serve with plenty of warm tortillas and a few fresh garnishes.
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried chile piquin optional
- 10 guajillo peppers stems and seeds removed
- 6-10 chile de arbol stems removed
- 3 tomatillos
- 3 roma tomatoes
- 2 pounds of chicken pieces 8 drumsticks or other pieces of your liking
- 1 medium white onion dice half and reserve all of it
- 8 cloves garlic mince half, leave others whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grapeseed or olive oil
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 6 fresh epazote leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
Combine the oregano, cumin seeds and chile piquin to a mortar and crush with pestle. It will be slightly coarse, set aside.
To a large pot, add the guajillos, chile de arbol, tomatoes and tomatillos. Cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Drain all but 1 cup of the liquid. Transfer to the blender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
At the same time, in another pot, add the chicken, whole section of onion, whole cloves of garlic, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of peppercorns, 10 cups of water and salt to taste. Bring up to a boil, skimming the foam off the top as needed. Reduce to a simmer, cover partially and cook for 40 minutes.
Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Strain out the solids from the broth and reserve all of the chicken broth.
In that same pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat to medium. Add the onions and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed spices and saute for another minute. Add the salsa from the blender to the pot. Add 5 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Reduce the heat so it simmers gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken back in and any remaining juices on the plate. Add the fresh epazote leaves and continue cooking at a simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with finely crumbled or grated cotija cheese, onions, chile serrano and lime. Serve with a side of beans, rice and warm tortillas.
I have only ever prepared this recipe with drumsticks, but I think boneless chicken breast would also work. The broth will not be as flavorful if the breast are skinless though. In this case, I would add some chicken base or chicken bouillon to the broth.
I especially love the combination of the roma tomatoes and tomatillos when preparing a salsa or sauce.
Using whole dried herbs and chiles in my recipes is something that I do often. I feel like they are more flavorful when I crush them and either toast or saute them in oil.
The smallest of my molcajetes is perfect for grinding down spices and small dried chiles.
I want to point out that there are only 6 drumsticks in the picture above. That was all I had on this day. The recipe is really better with 8 drumsticks. Serves 4 people.
These days I am using my vitamix blender and do not need to strain my sauces anymore.
When those freshly crushed herbs and chiles hit that hot oil, wow! So aromatic!
If you cannot find epazote, substitute with a handful of fresh cilantro.
This was one of the most tasty chicken tacos!!!!!!!! Added avocado and served on a homemade blue corn and red chile tortilla!
Oh, how could I forget those Pickled Red Onions!!!!
Simple Mexican white rice and black beans….