The combination of chicken and fruit is a hallmark of southern Mexican cooking. This recipe is adapted from one by Maria Concepción Portillo, a native of Oaxaca who collected over 250 recipes from her home state. Freshly ground spices make a big difference in cooking, and I recommend buying a spice grinder or a coffee mill used only for spices.
- 1 chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into serving pieces (or use all dark meat)
- vegetable oil as necessary
- 2 large cloves garlic, roasted on a comal or dry griddle, then peeled
- ½ medium onion, roasted on a dry comal or griddle, then peeled
- 4 whole cloves, ground
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 ½”-3″, ground
- 1 small, sweet pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 12 ounces peeled roma tomatoes (drained, canned diced tomatoes may be used)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- salt to taste
Place the chicken in a large cazuela or Dutch oven with just enough oil to brown it without sticking. (I like to remove the skin and visible fat before doing this, but most Mexican cooks don’t remove the skin.)
In a blender, puree the garlic, onion, spices, pineapple, tomatoes and broth until a fairly smooth sauce is formed. (This will probably have to be done in a few batches.)
Pour the pineapple sauce over the chicken, stir, bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. If the sauce is thicker than desired, add additional chicken broth. If thinner than desired, uncover and cook until reduced to desired consistency. Add salt to taste if necessary.
To serve, spoon sauce over chicken. In Mexico, rice would be served first, but in many other places, diners prefer the rice to be served with the chicken. In this case, plain white rice works best with the savory sauce. Serves 6.