Chicken with Mulato Chile Sauce

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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2 large dried mulato or ancho chiles
3 cups hot water
4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 large scallions, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 oz. firm chorizo, cut into 1/2″ dice (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 large tomato, cut into 1″ dice (1-1/4 cups)
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
2 small chayote—peeled, quartered lengthwise and pitted

Achiote Rice for serving:

2 tsp. achiote paste
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. reserved chicken fat or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup short grain rice
1 tsp. kosher salt


1. Put the mulato chiles in a medium bowl and cover them with the hot water; cover with an inverted small plate to keep them submerged. Let the chiles soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain the chiles, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Stem, seed and coarsely chop the chiles.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add the pieces to the skillet, skin side down. Cover partially and cook the pieces over moderately high heat until well browned on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from the skillet and reserve it for cooking the rice (optional).

3. Add the scallions, garlic, onion and chorizo to the remaining fat in the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped chiles, wine, tomato, oregano and the reserved 1/2 cup of chile soaking liquid and simmer for 1 minute. Arrange the chicken in the skillet, skin side up. Tuck the chayote in between the pieces of chicken. Cover and cook over low heat until the chayote is tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

4. Transfer the chicken and chayote to serving plates. Boil the sauce over high heat until it has reduced, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the chicken and serve with *Achiote Rice.

*Achiote rice:

In a small bowl, dissolve the achiote paste in the water. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken fat or oil and ddd the onion. Cook over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Add the achiote water and the salt to the rice and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steam, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice and serve right away.

Recipe by Jacques Pepin, from the July 2006 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.