Duck in Mexican red pipian sauce: Pato en pipian rojo

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

Pipian, made with ground chiles and seeds, is usually served with chicken. Duck makes it an elegant dish to serve dinner guests and is especially suitable in the cooler months. This column has featured recipes for green pipian and this month presents a red pipian sauce that can be used with duck, chicken, or pork.


For the duck:

  • 1 4-5 pound duck, cut into serving pieces
  • juice of 4 bitter oranges
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • salt to taste

For the pipian:

  • 6 ancho chiles, seeded and deveined
  • ¾ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 whole allspice berries
  • 3 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or duck fat
  • salt to taste.

Cut the duck into serving pieces and rub with the orange and lime juices. (If bitter oranges, also called Seville oranges, are not available, use the least sweet oranges that can be found and add ¼ cup vinegar to their juice.) Cover the duck and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Rinse the duck very well, place it in a stockpot with water to cover, the scallions, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until the duck is cooked through. Remove the duck from the broth, cover and set aside while the pipian is being made. If you plan on using the duck fat instead of vegetable oil in preparing the pipian, let the duck cooking water cool and skim the fat from the surface. (Many cooks save duck fat for use in frying potatoes, but if cholesterol is an issue, throw out the duck fat or give it to a cook who has no cholesterol concerns.)

Toast the seeded and deveined chiles on a comal or dry griddle only to the point of fragrance, taking care not to burn them. Cover the chiles with boiling water and soak until soft, 15-20 minutes.

Grind the allspice, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon in a spice grinder or molcajete, and place in a blender with the drained, softened chiles, toasted sesame seeds, garlic and ¾ cups of broth. Blend to as smooth a puree as possible.

Heat the oil or fat in a large saucepan, add the puree and cook, stirring, 5-10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to stick to the saucepan.

Add the remaining broth, stir to combine, and cook over a medium flame, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is the consistency of heavy cream.

Place the duck in the pipian to heat through and serve with tortillas and rice, if desired.

Serves 4.

This sauce is also good for making enchiladas, filled with either duck or chicken.

Link to source articles
Mexican wines: Perfect pairings with holiday dishes
October in Actopan: Mexico’s National Mole Festival
Open sesame: Gateway to a world of flavor
Mexican wild game: Duck and quail

Published or Updated on: November 1, 2005 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2005
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