Monday, 26 May 2008

Mexican salsa chicken

A hectic couple of days testing and writing up recipes. This is the stage of a book I don't enjoy. It's a bit like being 8 months pregnant. You wonder why you did it but it's too late to go back ;-)

However I'm more than happy with the last recipe of today. In fact I can't wait to make it again. It's an idea I picked up from the American food blog Serious Eats on which one of New York's most famous chefs Mario Batali was writing about a meal his Mexican babysitter (well, presumably his children's babysitter) made regularly for the family. It's based on tomatillos, a fabulous sharp tomato-like ingredient it's difficult to find here in the UK but I wondered if you could substitute tomatoes. The answer - happily - is that you can. My daughter, Kate, who is obsessed with salsa is just going to love this.

Mexican salsa chicken
Serves 4-6

1 kg chicken thighs or thighs and drumsticks
750g ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1-2 mild onions (about 200g in total) peeled and roughly chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
rind and juice of 2 limes (preferably unwaxed)
A good bunch or large pack of coriander, well washed and trimmed
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1-1 1/2 tsp salt
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely shredded (optional)

You will also need a large casserole or deep frying pan

Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and drumsticks. Skin the tomatoes by making a cut in the skin, pouring the boiling water over them, leaving them for a minute then plunging them in cold water. Put the peeled chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, chillies and rind and juice of the limes in a blender or food processor. Cut the stalks off the coriander, chop roughly and add them to the blender goblet then whizz together until you have a liquid but still rough-textured sauce. (You may have to do this in two batches.)

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in the casserole or frying pan and tip in the salsa. Add 1 tsp salt and the skinned chicken, turning it in the sauce, Bring to the boil then turn the heat down low and simmer for about 45-50 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the salsa reduced and thick. Roughly chop half of the coriander leaves (about 3 heaped tbsp) and add them to the pan. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes then check the seasoning, adding more salt if you think it needs it.

Serve the chicken with warm tortillas or with brown rice, drizzling over a little olive oil and scattering over some more chopped fresh coriander and some finely shredded spring onions, if you have some. (It doesn't have to look quite as leafy as it does in the picture. I just got a bit over-excited as I usually do when coriander is around.)

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