Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mario Batali's Leo Maya's Chicken with Green Sauce

My husband stumbled on this recipe on Serious Eats a few years ago.  We rarely make it, but not because it isn't delicious, it's more a matter of the three pounds of tomatillos.  This dish is incredibly easy to make and actually doesn't require that many ingredients.  It does take a while, as braising always does, but the braising leaves the chicken thighs incredibly tender and flavorful.  And the green tomatillo-based sauce packs a serious punch.  It is nice - with some serious heat, and a nice sour flavor due to the lime and tomatillos.  We generally serve the chicken with more sauce, tortillas, thinly sliced red onions (optional), and sour cream, but you can serve it however you want.  Batali recommends hot sauce, but we usually find that the sauce itself is spicy enough.  Alex leaves the sour cream off, but I think that the creaminess of the sour cream really complements the heat and tang of the chicken beautifully.  I tried to find some nice queso blanco or cotija cheese to top the soft tacos with, but the grocery store was out.  Oh well.  This chicken would also be a wonderful filling for enchiladas, or a nice Mexican lasagna. 

After braising the chicken you end up with a lot of leftover green sauce.  If you make enchiladas then you will have plenty of sauce for your enchiladas.  If you make tacos, you will have at least a few cups of sauce leftover.  We freeze the sauce and defrost it later for other meals.  You can use it with plain (store-bought) rotisserie chicken to make enchiladas, you can top eggs with it, you can serve it with skirt steak or shrimp tacos, etc.  It really is that good!

 Recipe after the jump!

Leo Maya's Chicken with Green Sauce
By Mario Batali

3 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 jalapenos (or 2 serrano chilis)
 3 limes, zested and juiced
l bunch fresh cilantro, with 2 tbsp cilantro reserved
2 lbs. skinless chicken thighs or drumsticks 
1 lime, juiced
3 scallions, chopped

Place tomatillos, garlic, and jalapenos in a large Le Creuset or other Dutch oven full of boiling water.  Boil for 2 minutes, until slightly softened.  Drain.  Add juice and zest of 3 limes and cilantro.  Using either an immersion blender or a food processor, blend until just smooth.  Season to taste with salt.  Return green sauce to pot.  Add chicken to pot.  Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer chicken covered for 25-30 minutes.  Remove chicken from the pot and turn the heat up to high to allow sauce to reduce.  Allow chicken to cool until it can be handled, and then remove meat from the bone.  The chicken should be tender enough that it falls off the bone easily.  Remove sauce from heat, add the juice of the remaining lime.

Serve the chicken topped with a little of the sauce.  Garnish chicken with the scallions, and serve tacos with remaining cilantro, hot sauce, and sour cream.

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