Mixiote de pollo

Yield: 3 Servings

Measure Ingredient
6 \N Ancho chiles
8 \N Guajillo chiles
4 \N Pasilla chiles
2 teaspoons Coarse salt; + more to soak chile
⅛ teaspoon Dried marjoram
⅛ teaspoon Cumin seeds
½ teaspoon Dried oregano
1 \N Dried bay leaf
⅛ teaspoon Dried thyme
8 \N Whole cloves
4 \N Cloves garlic
2 teaspoons Coarse salt
1 tablespoon White vinegar
3 \N Chicken drumsticks
3 \N Chicken thighs
3 \N Fresh avocado leaves
\N \N Fresh tortillas; for serving

1. Toast chiles in a dry, hot skillet over medium-high heat until pliable, about 3 to 5 minutes; turn often to prevent burning. Remove seeds and veins from chiles and discard. Soak each type of chile separately in hot, salted water to cover for about 20 minutes. Drain, and reserve liquid.

2. Grind marjoram, cumin seeds, oregano, bay leaf, thyme, and cloves in a spice grinder.

3. In batches, combine drained chiles, ground herbs, garlic, salt, vinegar, and ½ cup soaking liquid in blender. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chicken, and marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

4. Cut three 16-by-16-inch parchment-paper squares. Place a drumstick, thigh, and an avocado leaf in the center of each square. Bring the four corners together, and tie with string. Place in a steamer, and steam over simmering water for 1 hour.

5. To serve, remove string, and open parchment paper, folding under slightly. Serve with fresh, warm tortillas.

Notes: (within recipe because they're too long for the Notes section) The origins of mixiote date back to pre-Columbian Mexico when small packages of chile-seasoned meat were wrapped in a transparent skin from the maguey-tree leaf. When steamed, the leaf wrapper infused the meat with a distinctive herbal flavor. However, since each maguey leaf takes eleven years to grow, the trees have become endangered. Josefina Howard of Rosa Mexicano restaurant in New York City, renowned for her classic presentation of regional Mexican cuisine, substitutes parchment paper with outstanding results.

Her recipe for Mixiote De Pollo uses chicken thighs and drumsticks marinated using three varieties of dried chiles. She roasts the chiles in a dry skillet, seeds and deveins them, and then soaks them in hot water. She also tucks a fresh Mexican avocado leaf into each parchment package for added flavor.

She steams the savory packages over simmering water for about an hour. If you don't have a proper steamer, improvise as Josefina often does. Put a colander, lined with a kitchen towel, in a large pot filled halfway with simmering water. To create a steam-proof seal, arrange two kitchen towels around the perimeter of the pot, and set the lid firmly in place.

Serve each package on a plate with fresh, warm tortillas. Cut the string from each package, and soak up the chile sauce with a tortilla. This recipe can easily double to serve six. Born in Cuba and raised in Spain, Josefina lived in Mexico for twenty-eight years, where she developed her passion for the country's rich and varied cuisines. Since opening Rosa Mexicano in 1984, she has established a reputation for presenting classic Mexican cuisine that showcases the distinctive flavors and preparations of the country's thirty-two states.

To learn more about avocados, please see the February 1998 issue of MARTHA STEWART LIVING.

Recipe by:

Posted to recipelu-digest by "Valerie Whittle" <catspaw@...> on Feb 16, 1998

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