mexican chicken stew recipe
You know those times where you feel like tacos, but you’ve been eating them once a week at least for the last year…you may know about our excessive love of tacos around here. Well, if it’s taco night and you want to mix it up a little, we have a recipe for you!
This stew has all your favourite taco flavours, but you can eat it out of a bowl! (I love eating out of bowls as much as I love tacos). Here’s Tim with the details…
We rarely go to restaurants. But if we do, I look for menus that show that the chef is attempting new techniques and using different and unusual ingredients. Whether the chef succeeds or fails, I am usually content in the experience because I have hopefully learnt something new about food and cooking. So my restaurant experiences are mostly about learning what is new and trendy in the food world.
Being a former line cook, the first thing I do when I enter a restaurant is look for the kitchen. If there is an open kitchen, I begin to judge it. I want to see an army of young clean-cut, professional looking cooks with shiny clean steel pots and pans, and new kitchen equipment that looks like it’s on loan from the space station. I want trendy, meticulous, artful, in a word – cool. However, there is one cuisine that is always an exception – Mexican (although it can certainly be trendy and cool).
Most Mexican restaurants I have been to do not have open kitchens. But, if I could look into the kitchen, I would like to see the complete opposite of what I described above. I would hope to see one or two wickedly old women hunched over giant simmering pots decorated with splatter marks from the hours of slow cooking. I want to see them using kitchen equipment that looks like it is on loan from the Smithsonian. I want traditional, unmeasured, rustic, in a word – soulful.
So here is a dish that I have emulated from one such Mexican restaurant. I can’t remember the name of the dish – but I do remember it goes really well with an ice cold cerveza. Enjoy.
Mexican Chicken Stew
4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick), separated
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 dried ancho chilli pepper (optional, but way better)
1 jalapeño, sliced and seeded
1 teaspoon of dried cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cups of chicken stock
1 large can of tomatoes
1 small can of white kidney beans
salt and pepper
You are going to want to keep the skin on the legs. It will add tons of flavour to the sauce. So first, separate the thigh from the drumstick, or have your butcher do it. Next, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Be generous here, that salt needs to season all the way through the meat. Bring out your big heavy pot and put it on medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and place half your chicken in the pot. You are going to want to do this in two batches. You are looking for a nice dark crispy skin, so don’t over-crowd the pan – you’ll end up steaming the chicken (steamed chicken is about as good as it sounds, not very). This takes about 3 minutes each side. Remove the chicken and set side.
Turn the heat down to medium, add your onions to the pot and season. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes. You are looking to add some sweetness, so try to caramelize them slowly. Add your garlic and jalapeño. Cook for 3 more minutes. While the onions are cooking, add your dried ancho chilli to a food processor with a cup of hot/boiling water. Let it steep for a couple minutes and then chop it up. It should be close to pureed.
Add the chicken back to the pot, and all the spices. Cut the stalks off of the cilantro and tie them with string (for easy removal later). You can also chop them up really fine if you wish. Reserve the tops for a garnish. Add the cilantro stalks and the ancho chilli mixture.
Deglaze the pot with the chicken stock and scrape the bottom. Bring to a simmer and reduce the stock by half, about 10 minutes, and then add the tomatoes. Season and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 30-40 minutes.
When the stew is almost done, it’s time to make the crunchy beans. Rinse and dry the beans. You want them really dry, to get that crunchiness. Use a non-stick pan and heat it on medium-high. Add the remaining olive oil to coat the pan. Add the beans and cook until the skins crack and get crispy. Add a little salt and pepper.
Serve the stew family style, garnish with chucks of avocado, the cilantro tops and the crunchy beans. Muy rico!