Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pechugas de Pollo con Rajas

My dear friend Christina prepared this dish for us once years ago--one of our friends and co-workers, Winona, was moving away and leaving us, so this was part of a sort of farewell luncheon. I loved this dish so much, chicken and chiles and rice, and have thought of it often. I finally remembered to ask Christina for the recipe, only to find that I have had the cookbook on my shelf all along!

The recipe is an adaptation of Diana Kennedy's, from The Cuisines of Mexico. I actually have a newer version, The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Christina serves this chicken with Arroz Blanco con Elote (white rice with corn).

Pechugas de Pollo con Rajas
(Chicken Breasts with Poblano Chiles and Cream)

Serves 6

6 small chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 peanut or safflower oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
2 1/2 pounds chiles Poblanos, charred, peeled, seeds and veins removed, and cut into narrow strips (or about 20 to 22 canned peeled green chilies WHOLE not chopped)

1Cup milk if fresh poblanos
2/3 cup milk if canned chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 cups thick sour cream

1/4 pound grated cheddar cheese

Oven proof serving dish at least 3 inches deep and about 10 inches in diameter.

Bone and skin the chicken breasts. Cut each into four filets. Season well with salt and pepper. (Christina cuts the chicken into bite size pieces)

Heat the butter and the oil together in a frying pan and saute the filets for a few moments on both sides until lightly browned. Set aside.

In the same fat fry the onion gently, without browning, until it is soft.

Peel and clean the chiles. Set aside eight poblanos or nine canned chiles. Cut the rest into rajas (strips). Add the rajas to the onions and cover. Cook over a medium flame (8 minutes for the poblanos and 5 for the canned chiles)

Blend the reserved chiles with the milk and salt until smooth. Add the sour cream and blend a few seconds longer.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Arrange 1/2 of the filets in the dish. Cover them with half of the rajas and half the sauce. Repeat the layers.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake until the chicken filets are done and the cheese melted. It is not necessary to brown the cheese. About 30 minutes.

You can prepare the separate parts of this dish ahead of time but do not combine until just before cooking.

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