Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicken in Pipián Sauce

I made this once before using a recipe from Rick Bayless. It turned out great, but it was very labor intensive. The version from Sunset Mexican was more manageable. The recipe actually calls for duck, but I used chicken. I adapted the pipián paste to a smaller portion, which is how we end up with only 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro. I tried it with 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro, and it worked out fine.

For the pipián paste:
3 oz. hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
¼ cup chicken broth
½ jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
¼ teaspoon each ground cumin, ground pepper, and salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

For the rest:
1 small chicken for roasting (all I could find was a five-pounder)
1 or 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 can (11 oz.) tomatillos, drained
2 large romaine lettuce leaves, torn into pieces
1 recipe pipián paste
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 cup chicken broth

First, make the pipián paste.
Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast, stirring once or twice, in a 350 degree oven, until seeds begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (Note: I used our toaster oven, and it took about half that amount of time). In a blender, combine pumpkin seeds with chicken broth, jalapeño, cumin, pepper, salt, and cilantro. Whirl until smooth; add a little more liquid if necessary. Sauce will be grainy. Set aside.

To make the chicken:
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Place breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven until done, about 1 hour and a half (90 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine chiles, onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and romaine; whirl until smooth.

Heat oil in a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add chile puree and pipián paste; cook, stirring, until sauce bubbles. Blend in broth and bring to a boil.

Pour sauce into a rimmed serving platter. Cut chicken in quarters and lay over the sauce.

We had this with rice and a sautéed medley of corn, zucchini, and red peppers.

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