Having fresh tortillas on hand from the local Tortilleria told me that this dish was meant to be. Like a midwinter week in sunny Mexico, Pollo Tepehuano will deliver me from my cooking rut. Things are going to turn around soon.
Pollo Tepehuano (Chicken Tepehuan)
Serves 4, with leftovers.
A few notes on ingredients:
- Don't be tempted to substitute ground cumin for the whole cuminseed. The essence of this dish comes from the earthy flavor of the toasted cuminseed.
- If you can't find a nice fresh tomato, chop up a canned Italian plum tomato.
- Any hot green chiles will work here; I didn't have serranos so I used Thai chiles instead.
- 12 green onions (scallions)
- 4 1/2 pounds chicken parts, skin removed (such as a whole chicken cut up, or 2 bone-in breasts and a package of boneless chicken thighs)
- 8 cups strong chicken broth, homemade if you have it
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- 2 Tbsp. safflower or canola oil
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 chiles serranos or any fresh, hot green chiles, seeds removed and finely chopped. (Wash hands and knives thoroughly after chopping).
- 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves only, roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp. cuminseed
- Cut four of the green onions into quarters lengthwise, using the tender part of the green.
- Put the green onions and the chicken pieces into a large pot with the broth.
- Bring slowly to a simmer and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the rice twice in a colander and leave it to drain. After the chicken has simmered for about 10 minutes, add the rice to the pot, and add salt. Cook until the chicken and the rice are very tender, 30-45 minutes.
6. Add the cuminseed to the tomato mixture. Cook for a few minutes until the cumin gives off a toasted aroma, but do not burn.
7. Add the tomato/cuminseed mixture to the chicken, and cook for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve hot, with warm tortillas.
Here's our culinary phrase of the day: Mis en Place. A simple concept to understand, but difficult to practice if you are in the habit of grabbing pantry items and cooking at the same time. Practicing Mis en Place can elevate your cooking to a new level.