Pollo Encacahuatado

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the 1862 victory of Mexican forces over the French army in the "Battle of Puebla." This battle pitted a poorly equipped Mexican militia against a much larger French force. The victory was rather short-lived as upon news of the French defeat in Puebla, Napoleon III dispatched a much larger force of 30,000 troops to conquer much of Mexico. French rule lasted a mere 3 years, as American and Mexican worked together to expel the French. While Cinco de Mayo is somewhat celebrated throughout much of Mexico, it is most exuberantly celebrated in Puebla. Cinco de Maya has also become a widely celebrated event in the United States, particularly, but not exclusively, in the Southwest. It is often mistakenly understood as Mexican Independence Day which is on September 16th although the complexity of the process in which Mexico became an independent country make setting an exact date a bit problematic. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is somewhat similar in meaning to St. Patrick's day, more of a celebration of culture than a celebration of a specific meaningful event. Pollo Encacahuatado is a regional specialty of Puebla.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons of corn oil
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes (or 2 Roma tomatoes, skinned)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, and chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup shelled roasted peanuts (remove skins if necessary)
  • 1 Ancho chili (dried Pablano chili), seeded, de-veined and soaked in warm
    water until soft (about 10 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 (14 once) chicken broth (one can)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cilantro for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large saucepan, saué chicken 3 tablespoons of oil until golden brown.
  3. While the chicken is browning:
  4. In a food processor, puree chili, onion, garlic, and one tablespoon of oil. the mixture should be smooth. Set aside mixture and rinse processor.
  5. Now puree the roasted peanuts, tomatoes, and cinnamon in the food processor.
    Add water if necessary to make the mixture smooth.
  6. Remove browned chicken pieces from the skillet and set aside.
    Drain excess oil from pan so that only a tablespoon or two remains
  7. Add chili/garlic/onion mixture to pan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently
  8. Add peanut/tomato/cinnamon mixture and broth to pan and mix well.
  9. Add chicken and cook over low heat for 35-40 minutes turning chicken pieces halfway through.
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice, beans and hot corn or flour tortillas.

¡Buen Apetito!

Recipe by T. Johnston-O'Neill

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