Every year at Christmas, I ask Santa for a few new cookbooks, and this year I was lucky enough to receive, “Oaxaca” – Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. Oaxacan food is comprised of some pretty special dishes, and probably most known for Mole’. If you’re not familiar with Mole’, it’s made with a host of dried chilies that have been toasted and re-hydrated, then pureed with several other ingredients, some including nuts and chocolate. However, Oaxacan food is much more than Mole’ and this cookbook, written by Bricia Lopez, the daughter of creator, “Guelaguetza,” a most popular Oaxacan restaurant here in Los Angeles, familiarizes us with this authentic cuisine.
I’m not going to lie, if you’re not an experienced cook, there’s probably a little learning curve to overcome because the recipes can be a little challenging, but with a few exceptions. What’s extraordinary about reading this book is the story about the Lopez Family who migrated here from Oaxaca, Mexico in the early 90’s and started a restaurant right here in Los Angeles with not much experience, or resources. The recipes in the cookbook, begin with how-to-make Masa from scratch – the cornmeal used to prepare tortillas and tamales. However, if you’re not up to the challenge, you can purchase Masa from a local Mexican market and proceed with any recipe as written.
I thought I would share my version of their recipe for Pollo Enchipotlado, or Chicken in Creamy Chipotle Sauce because it’s fairly easy to prepare with not a lot of ingredients, and it’s wonderful. In this dish, as with most good recipes, it’s all about the sauce! The sauce is soft and slightly spicy, but it won’t knock you over, it just compliments the juicy chicken. In fact, this recipe makes enough sauce to siphon off a bit to use in another meal like chicken tacos, grilled beef, or to drizzle over roasted vegetables.
This is one chicken recipe you’ll make over and over again, it’s true comfort food made easy. I highly recommend this cookbook, it makes a great gift for upcoming birthdays, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day. You’ll truly fall in love with the Oaxacan culture, and all they contribute to our worldwide food scene.
1 whole chicken, cut up into 10 pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
28 ounces diced canned tomatoes
1 small red onion, cut into quarters
4 cloves garlic, skin removed
1 tablespoon butter
3 whole canned Chipotles in Adobo + 2 tablespoons Adobo
3 bay leaves
salt & pepper
Cotija cheese, optional
Mexican Crema or sour cream, optional
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and spread with Dijon mustard, set aside.
- Preheat broiler and place onion and garlic on a sheet pan lined with foil. Place pan in oven and broil vegetables until charred on top, about 7-9 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- In a blender, add canned tomatoes, Chipotles, cooled onion and garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Puree mixture until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes (you can pass through a sieve, but I skipped that step).
- In a large iron skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter, place over medium-high heat. Add chicken skin-side-down and brown for 4 minutes, flip over and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Pour sauce over top, submerging chicken and turn heat to low. Place bay leaves in sauce and cover pan with lid.
- Cook chicken for 20 minutes. Remove lid and ladle chicken and sauce onto plates over cooked rice, vegetables or quinoa. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese and drizzle with Mexican Crema, if desired. Enjoy!