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Chicken with Mexican Charred Tomato Sauce

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Serves four.

You'll want to use two skillets for this recipe, as the skillet used to char the vegetables will need a good cleaning (and reseasoning, if cast iron) before it's used again. Chipotle chiles add a nice smoky heat to the sauce; if you can't find them, substitute a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce or chile paste. Serve this piquant chicken with lime wedges, chopped cilantro and chiles, and sour cream.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 3 to 4 large tomatoes (18 to 20 oz. total)
  • 2 Tbs. butter or olive oil
  • 4-lb. chicken, cut into 6 pieces (or 3-1/2 to 4 lb. chicken pieces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chile (about 1 small)
  • Leaves from 1/2 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup lightly packed), coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • Lime wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Heat a large cast-iron skillet, without any oil, on high heat. When the pan is very hot (about 3 to 4 minutes; a drop of water will sizzle away instantly), put in the garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Stirring every few minutes, cook the onion and garlic until they brown on all sides and become fragrant, about 10 minutes. (The garlic may be removed earlier.) Move the tomatoes around with tongs until they blacken and most of the skin is blistered. Remove and reserve the vegetables.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter or oil to a new skillet that's just large enough to hold the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the skillet on the skin side to brown it and to render the fat from the skin, about 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook on the bone side for about 5 minutes. Remove and reserve the chicken. Drain the fat from the pan.

Pull the skin off the tomatoes, remove the cores and stem, and cut the tomatoes in half crosswise; gently squeeze out their seeds. Put the garlic, onion, tomatoes, and chipotle chile in a blender and purée to a smooth sauce, about 2 minutes (You should have about 1-1/4 cups sauce.) Pour the sauce back into a large skillet (it will just cover the bottom), and then add the chicken pieces back to the pan as well. Simmer the chicken gently in the sauce, covered, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to wide soup plates. Season the sauce with salt and spoon it over the chicken. Pass the cilantro, jalapeños, lime wedges, and sour cream in separate little bowls at the table for guests to sprinkle over the chicken.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 520; Fat (g): fat g 31; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 9; Protein (g): protein g 48; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 14; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 730; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 135; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Ben Fink

This was delicious! I enjoyed the flavour from the charred vegetable technique. After I pureed the sauce, however, I was certain that I had made a mistake in selecting this recipe as the flavour was really not very good. I even warned my husband that dinner may not be very good that night. But I continued with the recipe and after the simmering of the sauce with the chicken something surprisingly wonderful happened. I cannot explain but it was not the same sauce that I had pureed 30 minutes prior. It was wonderful! Can't wait to make it again.

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