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Veracruz - Chicken Tlatonile Recipe

Chicken Tlatonile from Huatusco – Tlatonile de Pollo Huatusqueño

Serves 4

1 chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
20 g/3/4 oz ancho chillies
10 g/1/3 oz dried de arból chillies
200 g/7 oz sesame seeds
15 ml/1 tbsp olive oil
175 g/6 oz onions, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
10 g/1/3 oz fresh epazote or coriander/cilantro, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

When you have jointed the chicken, place the carcass in a saucepan, add enough cold water to cover by 5 cm/2 in and cook over medium heat for about an hour to make a stock. Remove and discard the carcass. The stock can be made well ahead of time and refrigerated if necessary. Reheat to boiling point.

Remove the stem from the chillies, cut them open with scissors and remove the seeds. Pull away the veins from the ancho chillies.

Heat a heavy frying over medium heat and toast all the chillies, pressing down on them with a spatula, until they start to smell aromatic, about 3 minutes. Flip them over and do the same on the other side. Place them in a bowl, cover with the hot stock, put a small saucepan lid or plate on top to keep them submerged, and set them aside to soak for 30 minutes.

While the chillies are soaking, heat the heavy frying pan again over medium heat, add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn a rich gold. Place them in the bowl of a food processor and process until they are well broken down.

When the chillies have rehydrated, add them with the stock to the seeds in the food processor. Process until you have a fairly smooth sauce. The sauce can be prepared well ahead of time and refrigerated if necessary.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying or sauté pan in which the chicken will fit eventually in one layer. Brown the chicken pieces well on both sides until they turn a deep golden brown. Remove them to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until soft and golden. Scrape out onto the plate with the chicken.

Stir the sauce into the frying pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes then add 250 ml/1 cup of water. Continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes, by which time the sauce will have reduced. Stir in a further 120 ml/1/2 cup of water and some seasoning and bring back to the boil. Nestle the chicken portions and onion mixture down into the sauce, cover the pan and cook very gently for one hour. Check the seasoning.

Spoon the chicken and sauce onto a large serving plate and sprinkle with the epazote or coriander.

Serve immediately.

Buén provecho!


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