Mexican braised chicken with vanilla: Pollo al vainilla

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

As unlikely as it may seem, vanilla pods, or “beans”, are a tantalizing addition to this speciality of the Totonac Sierra Oriente, the beautiful mountain range that separates coastal Veracruz from the inland high plateau. The shelf-life of a vanilla pod may be extended by keeping it in a tightly-sealed container of sugar. The sugar itself will take on a vanilla flavor and can be used to add extra taste and aroma to many dessert recipes.


  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 cup Tres Coronas or other sweet Mexican sherry
  • 3 chicken breasts, split and boned
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large white onion, cut into thin rings
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Place the vanilla beans in one of two small bowls, and the raisins in another; pour half the sherry over each.

Let sit for 25-30 minutes.

In a large skillet, saute the chicken breasts in the melted butter for 5 minutes on each side, over medium heat.

Remove chicken from pan, add onions, and saute until the onions are transparent.

Add flour and stir continuously with a wire whisk until the flour has taken on a golden color (the classic French “roux.”.)

Add chicken broth all at once, stirring continuously with the wire whisk, until the broth has thickened.

Lower heat, add chicken breast pieces, vanilla beans and raisins with sherry liquid and continue cooking over medium-low heat an additional 15 minutes.

The classic accompaniment to this dish in the Sierra Huasteca is a sweet corn tamale, which is dipped into the sauce. Alternatively, it may be served with tallarines, wide noodles.

Serves 6.

Link to source article
Vanilla: a Mexican native regains its reputation

Published or Updated on: June 1, 2000 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2000
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