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Pollo en pulque (Chicken in pulque sauce)

Pollo en pulque (Chicken in pulque sauce)
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

I entered my first small-town pulqueria, a place called Sal Si Puedes, with trepidation. The name itself was a warning: "Escape if You Can." Two toothless patrons teetering on bar stools gazed as I ordered a pulque. The bartender handed ... Read more

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus marinating time for the chicken | Serves 6 to 8

Marinated chicken

  • 1 cup pulque (or substitute a dry white wine)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 clove
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds) cut into serving pieces (breast in quarters, thigh and leg separated; save the back for something else, such as soup or stock)

Step 1In the bowl of a blender, combine the pulque, orange juice, zest, onion, garlic, clove, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a glass or ceramic bowl and rub the marinade all over the chicken. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 hours to marinate.

Pollo en pulque assembly

  • Marinated chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups pulque (or dry white wine)

Step 1Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and pat the chicken dry using paper towels or a kitchen cloth.

Step 2In a heavy casserole, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides, turning from time to time. Remove the browned chicken to a plate.

Step 3To the casserole, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, chile (if using), oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the spices are aromatic and the flavors are married, 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 4Stir in the pulque and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the casserole. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the chicken and the reserved marinade. Cook the chicken at a gentle simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, 40 to 50 minutes (the white breast meat will cook a little faster than the dark thigh and leg meat; remove the white meat and hold in a warm place until the dark meat is completely cooked). Remove from heat and serve.


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