Pipian Chicken With Pumpkin Seed Sauce

According to Zarela Martinez pipian is one of the oldest pre-Hispanic main dish sauces.  The pumpkin seeds are used both as a thickener and a flavoring. The sauce can also be used with other meats.
Recipe By: Zarela Martinez - Oaxaca
  • Prep1 min |
  • Total2 min |
  • Serves 4 - 6



Roast and peel the chile peppers, set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat half the lard over medium-high heat until rippling.  Lightly brown the chicken, allow about 3 minutes per side.  Pour off and discard all but about 2 tablespoons fat from the pan; set the pan aside.

Heat the remaining lard in a large, heave medium-size skillet over low heat.  Add the pumpkin seeds and toast in the hot fat until slightly puffed, stirring and shaking the pan constantly.  The two dangers are burning them (which makes the dish taste bitter) or being hit by flying seeds as they heat up and pop--so watch carefully.

Remove the seeds from the pan and let drain on paper towels. Let cool briefly.

Grind the cloves, allspice, and oregano together in an electric coffee or spice grinder, or mortar and pestle.   Place in the blender along with the garlic, pumpkin seeds, reserved chiles and chicken stock.  Process to a smooth puree.  Alternately, place the ground spices, garlic, pumpkin seeds, and chiles in a food processor and process to a smooth puree; scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and with the motor running, add the chicken stock through the feed tube a little at a time.

Over medium high heat reheat the reserved fat in the Dutch oven until rippling.  Carefully add the pumpkin seed mixture bring just barely to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.  Stir in 1 teaspoon salt or to taste. Remove 1 cup of the sauce and reserve in a small saucepan.

Add the chicken pieces and epazote to the remaining sauce and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir frequently.  If desired, briefly toast a few extra pumpkin seeds in a small dry skillet over low heat while the chicken is cooking.

When the chicken is done, heat the reserved 1 cup of sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving plate with the sauce from the Dutch oven.  It will look curdled and not very appetizing, but don't worry!  Pour the reheated 1 cup of sauce over the dish.  If desired, sprinkle with the extra toasted pumpkin seeds.  Serve at once.

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