Bachelor Dinner, July 23, 2010

Bachelor Dinner.

Boy, I haven’t posted a Bachelor dinner for a while!

But all the recent bachelor dinners have been Jambalaya. There’s only so many times I can post that recipe.

Recently we were visiting family in Wisconsin, and I was called upon to make Guacamole.

When I was doing that, I was reminded I haven’t made any Mexican dishes for ages.


So for this Bachelor Dinner, I decided to dig waaaaay back into my past, and make chicken in a tomatillo sauce.  And by way back, we’re talking nearly prehistoric, late-1980s, when I first discovered Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking”.  I probably made this as a dinner special when I was working as a manager at Pasqual’s in Madison, Wisconsin.

This dish, with its sweet-sour, spicy sauce, when served with corn tortillas and garnished with feta cheese and cilantro is truly one of my favorite flavor combinations. Hard to beat, and the leftovers, (should there be any,) make great enchiladas.

Chicken in a Tomatillo Sauce with Chipotle Peppers

8 Pieces Chicken Leg and/or Thighs (you could also use chicken breasts, but why would you?)
2 TBSP Olive (or other) oil
1 Pound Tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 can Chipotle en Adobo
3 Cloves Garlic
1/2 White Onion, halved
2 TBSP Pepitas (hulled Pumpkin seeds) toasted and ground
Chicken Stock (maybe)
Honey or Sugar (maybe)
Cilantro, Picked and Chopped
Feta Cheese (or queso blanco)
Corn Tortillas

You can go two ways with the Tomatillos. Either poach them or roast them. If you are a traditionalist, a la Diana Kennedy, you will probably poach them. If you are a modern cook, a la Rick Bayless, you will probably roast them. Either way, you want them to be poached or roasted until they feel like little water balloons. They will probably not all reach this state at the same time, so remove them carefully from the water or oven as they cook, and add them to a blender or food processor. If you let them go too long, they will split.  Not horrible, but you’re either losing flavor into your poaching liquid or messing up your roasting pan.  No disrespect to Ms. Kennedy, I roasted them in a pre-heated cast iron pan.

If you are roasting, also include your garlic and onion in the pan. Turn as you do the tomatillos, and remove last after all the tomatillos are cooked through. Add the onion to the blender. Peel the garlic and add it to the blender. Open the can of Chiles en Adobo and grab 3-6, depending on your preference for Spiciness. Chop them roughly and add them to the blender. Add the Ground Pumpkin seeds. Pulse until well pureed. You may need to add chicken stock, if it is particularly dry (unlikely).

While the vegetables are cooking start another straight sided saute pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil. Brown the Chicken on all sides and remove from the pan. Turn off the heat, but leave the oil in the pan. (It should be noted, that in traditional Mexican cooking, with its lack of oil and appropriate cookware, you would not brown the chicken.)

If your saute pan has cooled, turn the heat back on and pour the tomatillo sauce into the pan. Heat briefly and check the seasonings. If it is too tart, add some sweetener. You will need to add a fair bit of salt, as the sauce up to this point is only vegetables. Add chicken to sauce, cover, and cook at a low heat until done, turning the chicken from time to time.

When chicken is done, remove from sauce and place in warmed serving bowl. Turn the heat on the sauce up to high and reduce until the liquid level is similar to apple juice. Pour over Chicken. Garnish with Cilantro and crumbled Feta Cheese. Serve with Corn Tortillas and a side dish.

Serves 4 with a side dish.

Bachelor Dinner.