Chicken in Red Sesame Seed Sauce: Pipian Rojo Del Norte

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.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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6 ancho chiles
3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
5 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1 (1/2″) stick Mexican cinnamon (canela)
3-1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 Tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large fresh or dried avocado leaf, toasted and finely ground (optional
2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved
vegetable oil, as needed
mixed cilantro and mint leaves, for garnish

serving suggestion: warm corn tortillas


Stem and seed the chiles, reserving 1 Tbsp. of the seeds, or more to taste. Toast the chiles in a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and cover with hot tap water, and soak for 20 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, toast the chile seeds in the skillet. In a clean coffee or spice grinder, finely grind the chile seeds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon.

In a blender, combine the chiles, ground spices, 1/2 cup of chicken broth and the garlic. Blend well.

Heat the lard in a saucepan over medium-high heat and pour in the blended sauce. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom, until it has somewhat reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. (The sauce may be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.)

Preheat a grill or grill pan. Lightly brush the chicken with some oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, turning to make cross-hatched marks, until it is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken and transfer to a platter.

Reheat the sauce and stir in the avocado leaf. Ladle the sauce gently over the chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds, Garnish with herb leaves and serve with warm corn tortillas.

Recipe from The Food Network.