Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Chilate de Pollo (Braised Chicken in a Spicy Guajillo Broth)

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
A cross between a soup and a stew, chilate de pollo is a traditional Mexican recipe that's full of flavor.

Chilate de Pollo is a recipe I came across while searching for Mexican recipes with epazote. I would have loved to use fresh epazote, but it's only available during the summer in the farmers markets where I live. Dried herbs and spices add great flavors as well. Epazote is often used in many traditional Mexican recipes and the flavor is similar to anise, fennel and tarragon. Chiles guajillo, epazote and chicken are the key ingredients for preparing this spicy chicken dish. It’s a cross between a soup and a stew. You could thin it out by adding more broth or thicken it up by adding some masa harina as it simmers. The fiery red color indicates that it’s going to be spicy, and this version was. To prepare a mild version, you could add a couple more guajillos and take out the chile de arbol and pequin. Either way you serve it, it’s delicious. It is often served with crumbled queso fresco, but I went with a sharp and salty cotija cheese.


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  1. Combine the epazote, oregano, cumin seeds, peppercorns and chile pequin to a mortar and crush with pestle. It will be slightly coarse; set aside.
  2. Add the guajillos, chile de arbol, tomatoes and tomatillos to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the liquid and transfer to the blender. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat 1/8 cup of olive oil to medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and brown for 5 minutes per side.
  4. Add the onions and garlic to the pot of chicken. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, chicken broth and cilantro. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Strain the chile sauce into the pot of chicken using a wire mesh strainer. Add the crushed spices. Cover and continue cooking at a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Garnish with crumbled cotija cheese and green onions. Serve with a side of beans and warm tortillas.

Chef Notes

Store dried herbs and spices in a cool, dark part of your cupboards. Direct light and heat will cause them to fade and lose their flavors. Try preparing the spicy sauce on its own. It can be used to braise any kind of meat, as a sauce for pasta, and it's even great for enchiladas.

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