Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 67 - Guatemala: Pollo Pepian- Spicy Chicken with tomatillo, pumkin and sesame sauce - Up Next, Guinea (AF)

Pineapple for dessert!
Tonight's Guatemalan meal, is perhaps one of the most interesting I've made thus far. Not because it's complicated - it was easy. Not because it's fancy - it's quite simple fare. And, not because it's the most beautiful dish I've ever prepared. Interesting because the flavors are unusually complex. I felt instantly transported to the beautiful country of Guatemala while enjoying this wonderful dish...more later!

The Central American country of Guatemala's history dates back to at least 12,000 BC. Many people probably know of the Mayan ruins and culture that so captivate our imaginations. It's neighbors include Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala is also rich in natural resources and boasts a magnificent ecosystem.

Guatemala's cuisine is influenced by Mayan and Spanish cultures and relies heavily on corn, beans, rice and tortillas as staples. Chicken, cilantro, garlic and green onions are also used to season many dishes - how can you go wrong??

The secret to thickening the sauce for this dish is in the corn tortillas which are pureed right along with the vegetables. Not only do they bind the sauce, but they add a distinctive corn flavor that melds beautifully with the tangy citrus of the tomatillos and the heat of the jalapeños. 

Husk tomatillos and simmer till tender with jalapeños, chicken and water
The citrus herb flavor of the tomatillos is superb!

Pepitas - pumpkin seeds

Toasted sesame seeds

Puree everything except chicken - then add shredded chicken and heat

Serve seasoned with cilantro and corn tortillas

The Recipe

Pollo Pepian - Spicy Chicken with Tomatillo, pumpkin and Sesame Sauce
Adapted from a Whole Foods Recipe: www.wholefoodsmarket.com

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 8 skineless chicken thighs
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 6 green onions, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1/ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2  8-inch corn tortillas, torn into pieces

Put 6 cups water, tomatillos, chicken, jalapeños and salt into large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until tomatillos and jalapeños are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving broth, and set aside chicken, tomatillos and jalapeños.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cilantro, green onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook until softened and gold brown, about 10 minutes; transfer to a blender. Add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, tortillas, 3 cups of the reserved broth, tomatillos and jalapeños (seeded first if you like) and carefully puree until smooth; work in batches, if needed. (Reserve broth for another use).

Transfer contents of blender to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes more. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and serve.

Final Assessment: Delicious, interesting, simple and unique. Highly recommended!!


Karen said...

very cool ! Love that there are pumpkin seeds pureed right in there, and the combination of flavors sounds heavenly !

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Merut said...

This looks really delicious! Is it difficult to find all of the ingredients for your quest? Such a fun way to taste the world.

Mexiguat said...

Guatemala is not a South American country it is in Central America.

sadie said...

Thank you, Mixiguat - I've made the correction!