Calabacita Con Pollo, Squash With Chicken

Calabacita Con Pollo, Squash With Chicken

I’m making the iconic Texas Mexican dish, Calabacita Con Pollo, squash with chicken, and I’m relating it to a dish from central Mexico, chicken poached in a garlic-cumin broth. It’s from the state of Hidalgo, in the central Eastern region of Mexico, the homeland of the great Toltec culture.The Toltec Art found in Hidalgo, home of this recipe: Chicken Poached in Garlic-Cumin broth is delicious and healthy Toltec art and the huge monuments are well-known and iconic of MesoAmerica, but a lesser known fact is that the region has a distinctive and delicious regional cuisine.  “Ajo Comino de Gallina” is a Hidalgo dish that uses poaching as a method for infusing flavors into food as it cooks with no fat.  The French have a similar method which they call Court Bouillon, used to deep-poach foods.Chicken Poached in Garlic-Cumin broth is a low-fat version of Calabacita Con Pollo

So, to vary our calabacita con pollo dish and eliminate added fat, I’ve used that Hidalgo cooking method to make the traditional Texas Mexican favorite, “Calabacita con Pollo.”  I hope you’ll like this poached version, and I ask especially my Texas Mexican friends for comments because I know that families have their own beloved variations.
I recommend that you try to find “tatuma” squash, which is an heirloom squash, native to Mexico where it has been grown for 10,000 years.  It’s delicious and has firm flesh. If not, zucchini works just fine.

Recipe for Calabacita Con Pollo, Squash with Chicken 6

(Adapted from the cookbook, “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes”

Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes
Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage In Recipes

Ingredients (serves 6)
2 1/2 lbs Chicken, skinned, trimmed of all fat, cut into 1″cubes
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Cumin
3 cups Water
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Canola oil
1 1/2 cup Tomato, small dice
1 White Onion, sliced
1 Tbsp Chile Serrano
2 large Mexican Tatuma squash (Calabacita), 1/4″ slices.  You can substitute zucchini if Tatuma is not available.

Tatuma is an heirloom squash, native to Mexico, used in Chicken Poached in Garlic-Cumin Broth
Calabacita, “Tatuma,” squash

Method
1.  Place the water, garlic and cumin In a large skillet or sauté pan and bring to the boiling point.
2.  Add the chicken pieces and keep the fire on high to bring the liquid back to a low simmer.  Lower the heat and keep poaching at a very low simmer until the chicken is fully cooked, approximately 20 minutes.
3.  Remove the chicken and hold warm.
4.  Strain the liquid with a fine mesh sieve and hold.
5.  In a Dutch oven or deep skillet heat the Canola oil.
6.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.
7.  While the onions are cooking, grind the Serrano chile into a fine paste using a molcajete. Add a little of the strained broth to the molcajete to lift off the paste and add to the onions.
8.  Add the tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups of the strained broth and cook this sauce, uncovered, on medium heat for 15 minutes.
9.  Add the chicken pieces and the slices of calabacita. Cover and continue cooking until the chicken is heated through and the squash is soft but still slightly firm, about 10 minutes.  Correct the salt.

Serve with hot corn tortillas.

(9/27/11)

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