Heading toward Beverly Hills, I struck up a conversation with a Salvadoran woman. She started to tell me about her pollo guisado, a chicken dish so interesting that I wanted to make it at once.
Unfortunately, I had to get off before she could give me all the details. In our hurried exchange, she couldn't think of the actual name of an ingredient she called semilla blanca (white seed).
Studying Salvadoran cookbooks, I figured this was sesame seed. We had already eliminated such possibilities as white peppercorns.
I had to guess at quantities and procedures, but the chicken turned out very well. The flavor was extraordinary, unlike anything I have made before.
It's so like a Mexican mole that I am including it in EatMx.com. The best part is, you can make the sauce one day, cook the chicken the next and then combine them. What could be easier than that?
From an Unknown Salvadoran Woman
1 pound tomatoes
3 dried California chiles
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon raw pepitas
1/4 cup almonds, blanched
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon powdered chicken stock base
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
On a griddle lightly sprayed with nonstick spray, roast the tomatoes, chiles and garlic. Remove the chiles as soon as they are softened and fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Continue roasting the tomatoes and garlic until spotted with black. Separately, roast the pepitas in a covered skillet until lightly browned.
Remove the stems and rinse out the seeds from the chiles. Tear them into pieces and place in a small saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the chiles stand until softened.
Remove the loose peel and stems or stem ends from the tomatoes. Cut them in halves or quarters if large. In a blender container, combine the tomatoes, drained chiles, garlic, pepitas, almonds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, chicken stock base, curry powder and anise seeds. Blend 2 minutes, stopping and starting the blender several times.
Remove the sauce to a container with a lid. Rinse out the blender with a small amount of water, or use some of the broth, if you are cooking the chicken the same day. If preparing the sauce in advance, cover the container and refrigerate it overnight. Makes 2 cups sauce.
2 pounds boneless chicken pieces
3 cups water
1 wedge onion
1 clove garlic
Place the chicken in a Dutch oven. Add the water, onion, garlic and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, 30 minutes for breast meat, a little longer for dark meat. Turn off the heat and let stand in the broth until cooled. Drain off the broth and reserve. Set aside the chicken.
Place the sauce in the pan in which the chicken was cooked. Bring just to a boil. Add the chicken pieces. Simmer, loosely covered, 15 minutes, or until heated through. If the sauce has become too thick, thin with some of the broth. Reserve any remaining broth for another use.
Serve the chicken covered with the sauce. Accompany with rice.
Makes 4 servings.