A specialty of the Puebla mountain town of Zacapoaxtla, this Mexican dish uses allspice leaves as well as berries in a savory chicken stew. If you can’t get allspice leaves, fresh bay leaves work well. In fact, allspice leaves are sometimes called “Jamaican bay leaves.”
- 1 chicken, cut into serving pieces
- 1medium onion, cut into large chunks
- 8 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 quarts water
- salt to taste
- 3 chipotle chiles
- 5 guajillo chiles
- 3 pasilla chiles
- 4 fresh allspice leaves or fresh bay leaves
- ½ tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 4 round calabacitas or small zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 4 carrots, parboiled and cut into ¼ inch slices
Place the chicken, ½ of the onion, 4 cloves of the garlic, water and salt in a stockpot, bring to a boil, cover pot and simmer until the chicken is tender. Remove breast pieces first, since they will cook faster than the dark meat. Strain and reserve stock and chicken separately.
Toast the chiles lightly, just to the point of fragrance, on a comal or dry griddle, taking care not to burn them. Place them in a saucepan with the allspice leaves and water to cover; cook for 15 minutes.
Place the drained chiles, remaining ½ onion, remaining garlic and whole allspice in a blender with just enough of the chicken broth to move the blades. If you like a more intense chile flavor, use some of the chile cooking liquid instead of broth. Liquify until the mixture is pureed.
Add the chile mixture to the broth and cook at a medium boil for 15 minutes. Add the calabacitas and parboiled carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and heat through. Taste for salt. Serve in soup bowls, accompanied by warm corn tortillas. Serves 6-8.
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