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. 

Course Chicken, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Chilate de Pollo
Servings 4 Servings



  • 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


  1. Combine the oregano, cumin seeds and chile piquin to a mortar and crush with pestle. It will be slightly coarse, set aside.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Strain out the solids from the broth and reserve all of the chicken broth.

  5. 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.

  6.  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. 
  7. Garnish with finely crumbled or grated cotija cheese, onions, chile serrano and lime. Serve with a side of beans, rice and warm tortillas. 

Recipe Notes

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.