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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
I first ate chicken cooked this way in the home of María Luisa and her husband, Dr. Pedro Daniel Martínez, two of the most knowledgeable people I know on Mexican regional food. María Luisa is one of the truly great creative cooks and has given me hours of her time, year after year, talking to me about food and explaining the nuances that make Mexican food something very special. She and her husband were born and brought up in Michoacán, a state which for me has some delicious regional food. They have never found this dish in restaurants or cookbooks: it is muy casero (real home cooking).
Put the chicken into a large pan with the onion, 1 garlic clove, the peppercorns, and salt, cover with cold water, and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes, add the carrots, and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the zucchini and continue cooking over low heat until the chicken is just tender and the vegetables still a little al dente, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving the stock.
Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and gently fry the onion and remaining garlic until translucent.
Blend the tomatoes to a fairly smooth sauce and add to the onion with ½ cup (125 ml) of the reserved stock. Let the sauce reduce over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces and vegetables, the raisins; almonds, chorizo, chiles, and chile juice and cook slowly for 8 minutes more, stirring the mixture from time to time to avoid sticking. The sauce by then should be reduced.
Heat the oil in a skillet, add the bread crumbs, and fry them, stirring them all the time until they are an even gold color, about 8 minutes. Then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the chicken and vegetables and serve immediately.
If you want to prepare everything ahead of time you can do so quite easily by cooking it up to the point of reducing the sauce. About 15 minutes before serving, reheat and reduce the sauce-this will heat the chicken through sufficiently. Even the bread crumbs can be fried crisp and kept warm. I do not suggest freezing.
Cooked and Lightly Charred on a Comal:
This is a very roundabout way of expressing the (Mexican) Spanish word asado. (The word is often applied to roast or grilled meat.)
In traditional peasant cooking many of the ingredients are prepared in this way-for example, rustic table sauces or for including in more complex moles. Whole unskinned 1 tomatoes are cooked on an ungreased comal or griddle over medium heat until soft right through, while the skin is lightly charred. This method intensifies the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the tomato. Some cooks I know then remove the skin while others-and I go along with them-do not, and opt for a sauce that is superior in flavor and texture but is not so colorful.
Many of the traditional foods of the Mayan villages in the Yucátan Peninsula are cooked in a bib, or pit, and ingredients to be included in the meal-chiles, tomatoes, onion, and garlic-are roasted asados on the hot stones lining the bottom of the pit. Locally they are referred to as enterrados, or “buried.”
Of course, if neither method seems practical, then place the tomatoes in one layer in a shallow pan and place under a broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat and broil, turning them once, until mushy and slightly charred. (This is an excellent method if you are going to freeze an abundant crop of tomatoes, when they are at their best in season.)
Stewed Preparing tomatoes by this method is rare, but a few cooks use it in Oaxaca. Cut the unskinned tomatoes into eight pieces and, for say 1 pound (450 g) of tomatoes, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and about ¼ cup (65 ml) water. Cover the pan and cook lover gentle heat, shaking the pan from time to time to avoid sticking, until mushy-about 10 minutes. This is a particularly good method when tomatoes are not at their best or are rather dry.
Grated The first time I saw this method was in Sonora many years ago, and I use it in the recipes on pages 133 and 179. It is best to have large round tomatoes. Cut a slice off the top of the tomato and, using the coarse side of a grater, grate the flesh with all the seeds land juice. With pressure the tomato is almost flattened and you end up with most of the skin in the palm of your hand.
Mexican Green Tomatoes Physalis SPP. The indigenous tomate verde is an indispensable ingredient in Mexican food. The fruit itself, with its shiny green skin often blotched with deep purple, is encased in a papery grayish-green husk that is often slightly sticky to the touch. Its name often varies with the region: fresadilla in northern Mexico, tomate de capoie in Colima, miltamate in Oaxaca, tomate milpero, and when very small in Michoacán, tomaillo, among other names. There are several varieties of this green tomato. The smallest (about 1 cm in diameter) grows wild in the cornfields; it is very com-pact and therefore has an intense flavor. There is also a large fleshy variety that I have seen in markets in the state of Mexico; the bright green skin is patched with yellow, and the fruit is referred to as tomate manzano or apple tomato. In the United States, tomate verde are sold as tomatillos.
With one exception, when you prepare these green tomatoes, remove the papery husks land rinse them well, but do not try to skin them. For some sauces they are chopped and blended raw, but more often they are simmered in water until soft.
Nutritional information is based on using water to cover the chicken and 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)