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Chicken with Pipian Rojo: A Day of the Dead recipe

Chicken with Pipian Rojo: A Day of the Dead recipe

Food writer Judy Walker wrote a thorough explanation of the Day of the Dead and then shared a few traditional Mexican recipes to celebrate the day.

One was this Chicken in Pipian Rojo, which is recipe is nut- and seed-rich mole sauce is prepared for special Mexican occasions. 

"The recipe comes from jacksonholefoodie, by Dr. Annie Fenn, who learned the recipe in cooking class in San Miguel de Allende. She suggests you serve it with white rice and a salad of avocado and oranges," Walker wrote.

The sauce is excellent with pork, shrimp or salmon as well, she said.

Chicken with Pipian Rojo
Makes 4 servings

For the chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up, bone in, skin on

1/2 medium white onion

2 garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt  

1 tablespoon dried marjoram

1 tablespoon dried thyme

For the sauce:

6 dried guajillo or 3 ancho chiles, seeded, deveined, torn into pieces

1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil

1 thick slice white onion

3 large garlic cloves, halved

5 or 6 cups chicken broth (from cooking the chicken), divided

1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

2/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/4 cup almonds

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Put chicken in large sturdy pot and cover with water, about 6 cups. Add onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, marjoram and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook over low heat about 1 hour.

Remove chicken pieces. Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve. Refrigerate both if preparing ahead, up to one day. If desired, remove skin and bones from chicken before adding to sauce.

Make the sauce: To prepare chiles, cut off the stem and open them with scissors. Carefully remove all seeds and veins, and tear into pieces.

In 1 tablespoon lard or oil, saute onion and garlic in a large saucepan until translucent. Add chiles and gently saute until they just soften, less than a minute. (Don't overdo it.)

Add 2 cups chicken broth, cumin, paprika and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer gently 15 minutes. While this simmers, prepare nuts and seeds. Toast pumpkin seeds in a skillet over low heat just until they start to pop. Remove from heat.

Toast almonds in the same skillet until barely brown. Remove from heat. Toast sesame seeds until they just start to pop and are toasty brown. Remove from heat.

In a spice/coffee grinder, a food processor or blender, grind the pumpkin seeds to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl.

Place sesame seeds and almonds in the blender and grind together until they are powdery. Transfer to another bowl, separate from the pumpkin seed powder.

When chiles and broth have finished simmering, put in blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve back into the same pot. Add 1 cup chicken broth and bring back to a boil. Whisk in the almond/sesame powder and cook over low heat 8 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin seed powder and the rest of the broth, about 3-1/2 cups. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and cook gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Taste for salt. Remove half the sauce and reheat chicken pieces in the pot. Serve the extra sauce on the side, or use for another dish. Reheat very gently on low.