Ancho Braised Chicken

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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Serves: 5 servings

1 – Chicken, rinsed and cut into 8-9 pieces
4 cups – Chicken stock
4 – Ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 – Garlic cloves, minced
2 – Shallots, chopped
2 tsp – Dried Oregano (preferably Mexican Oregano)
1 tsp – Dried Thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

In a medium-to-large saucepan, add chiles to chicken stock. Bring to a low boil and simmer until chiles are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, add about 1 TB vegetable oil to small saucepan and heat to medium; add garlic and shallots, saute until fragrant – about two minutes.
Add chiles and stock, garlic and shallots, and Oregano and Thyme to a blender; process until smooth.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally on chicken pieces. Heat another 2 TB of vegetable oil to medium-high in a Dutch oven. Place chicken pieces in Dutch oven and cook until slightly browned – about 4-5 minutes per side. (You’ll probably have to do this in 2-3 batches. Just set browned chicken aside and add more vegetable oil to brown the remaining pieces.)
Wipe excess oil from Dutch oven; add chicken back to pan then pour ancho sauce over chicken. Cover the Dutch oven, tilting the lid slightly so that some steam can escape and the sauce can reduce; cook until meat is nearly falling from the bone, about 90 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and queso fresco, if desired. Serve with Cauliflower-infused Chipotle Garlic Mashers (pictured) or Guacamole Pasta Salad.