Sunday, July 24, 2011

Encacahuatado - peanut and chile sauce from Mexico

By request I had to make a Mexican lunch yesterday so I made encacahuatado de pollo (chicken in peanut and chile sauce) for the first time in my life. I had been wanting to try to make encacahuatado for years and I finally did it! It turned out delicious even though I used very little chile since my mother-in-law is a bit sensitive to hot foods and I really wanted her to enjoy this delicious summer lunch.


1 cup raw, hulled, peanuts
1 ancho chile
1 large tomato
2 garlic cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 black pepper corns
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
5-6 epazote leaves
6 cilantro stalks with leaves
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp vinegar (applecider is best)
1-2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

4 pieces cooked chicken of your choice (breasts, thighs, legs)


In a dry iron skillet (or comal) toast the ancho chile for about 2 minutes on each side. Put in a bowl with hot water to soak. In the same skillet, toast the peanuts for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Still often! Put the peanuts in a bowl and let cool. Toast the garlic cloves until golden brown and the cinnamon, black pepper, and cloves for 2-3 minutes. Put aside in a bowl. Toast the tomato until cooked and the skin is mostly scorched on all sides. This takes a while but the taste is wonderful. Peel the tomato and slice it into chunks.

Remove the seeds from the ancho chile. Grind the peanuts and spices in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you don't have one of those then just put them in a blender (the sauce turns out a bit chunkier but the taste is the same). Blend the ancho chile, peanuts, spices, herbs, tomato, vinegar, sugar and 1 cup of the chicken broth until smooth.

Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a medium-sized pan. Pour the blended sauce and cook on low heat until thick and smooth (about 15 minutes). Stir often. Add more broth as needed. The sauce should cover the back of a wooden spoon when it is done.

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and serve with Mexican white rice and refried beans. Warm corn tortillas on the side are great with this dish!

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