The most distinctive ingredient in this dish is amaranth (amaranto), native to Tlaxcala and cultivated for use in cooking (most notably moles and the homemade bars of candy called alegrías, sold in every plaza in Mexico.) The tiny dried amaranth seeds used in this recipe are found in health food stores everywhere. This is not surprising, because the Greeks believed that they contained life-prolonging properties. The name of the plant comes from the Greek amarantos, which means “not fading.” I was told in a university class here in Mexico that one amaranth bar has more protein than a steak.
- 4 lbs. chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, or a combination)
- 2 1/2 cups amaranth, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
- 1 lb. tomatoes, roasted and skinned (roast on an open flame or broiler until charred)
- 2-3 canned chipotle chiles adobados, seeds and veins removed
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 small whole clove
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2″ piece cinnamon stick
- 4 guajillo chiles, seeds and veins removed, soaked 25 minutes in hot water to soften
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 lb. potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into cubes
- Salt to taste
In a large pot or dutch oven, saute chicken lightly in just enough oil to prevent sticking; add water to cover, with salt to taste. Cook until chicken is tender, set the chicken aside and strain the broth.
In a blender or food processor, blend the toasted amaranth, roasted and skinned tomatoes, chipotles, garlic, onion, clove, peppercorns, cinnamon, drained guajillo chiles, and chicken broth until smooth. You will have to do this in two batches. Heat a little oil in a pan, add the sauce and cook it over a low flame for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn. Add salt to taste. Add cooked chicken and potatoes. Serve with plenty of warm tortillas.