Chicken in Chile-Masa Sauce (Chilpozo de Pollo)

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 dried chipotle chiles
6 ancho chiles
4 large ripe tomatoes
2 or 3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 unpeeled small onion
One 3-1/2 to 4 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh masa or 3/4 cup masa harina reconstituted with 1/2 cup water
3 large fresh epazote sprigs or half a bunch of cilantro
1/4 cup dried chiltepín chiles, toasted
lime wedges for garnish


Pour the oil into a small skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the chipotle chiles, reduce the heat to very low, and cook them, stirring constantly, until the chiles are puffed and somewhat red, about 1 minute on each side for moritas or 2 minutes per side for common chipotles. Transfer the fried chipotles to a medium-sized bowl.

Rinse and griddle-dry the ancho chiles, then place them in the bowl with the chipotles. Cover with boiling water, and let the chiles stand for 20-30 minutes.

Roast the tomatoes and one of the garlic cloves on a hot griddle over medium-low heat until blackened all over. Peel the roasted tomatoes and garlic. Drain the soaked chiles and puree them in a blender with the tomatoes and garlic. With a wooden spoon, force the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside.

Place the chicken in a medium-sized stock pot or large deep saucepan with the onion, 1 unpeeled garlic clove, the peppercorns, and a teaspoon of the salt. Add the water to cover by 2″ (about 8 – 9 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any froth that rises to the top.

Let the pot boil for 5 minutes, then add the pureed tomato-chile mixture and reduce the heat to maintain a low rolling boil and cook, partly covered, for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.

Place the fresh or reconstituted masa in a mixing bowl and gradually stir in enough of the hot cooking liquid to make a thin gruel. (There’s much latitude in amounts; it’s hard to give a definite measurement.) If the mixture becomes lumpy, force it through a medium-mesh sieve with a wooden spoon. Pour the thinned masa into the pot with the chicken and add the epazote. Cook for 5 minutes or until it thickens to the consistency of thin cream soup.

Place the toasted chiltepines in a mortar with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1 peeled garlic clove. Crush into a paste. Serve the chilpozo accompanied with the chiltepín paste and lime wedges as condiments.

Recipe by Zarela Martinez.