Chilate de Pollo

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

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Yields 4 Servings


1 tablespoon dried epazote
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
½ tablespoon cumin seeds
½ tablespoon peppercorns
½ tablespoon chile pequin, optional
10 guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed
10 chile de arbol, stems removed
2 tomatillos
3 Roma tomatoes
8 chicken drumsticks
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 cup white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup cilantro, chopped



1. Combine the epazote, oregano, cumin seeds, peppercorns and chile pequin to a mortar and crush with pestle. It will be slightly coarse, set aside.

2. To a large pot, add the guajillos, chile de arbol, tomatoes and tomatillos. Cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the liquid and transfer to the blender. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.

3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat 1/8 cup of olive oil to medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and brown for 5 minutes per side.

4. To the pot of chicken, add the onions and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, chicken broth and cilantro. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Strain the chile sauce into the pot of chicken using a wire mesh strainer. Add the crushed spices. Cover and continue cooking at a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Garnish with crumbled cotija cheese and green onions. Serve with a side of beans and warm tortillas.

Recipe from Hispanic Kitchen, 2014