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. 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.
Recipe for Calabacita Con Pollo, Squash with Chicken 6
(Adapted from the cookbook, “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.
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.