Pollo Rojo (Red Pepper Chicken)
Red Pepper Chicken ~ A Latin inspired dish with big personality. Healthy, hearty and habit-forming… in a good way.
I have a certain endearment to chile peppers.
Although I love spicy food, that is not the reason for my appreciation. My love for chiles has more to do with their color, intensity, versatility and universal appeal.
Every country, every culinary endeavor throughout history, has been affected by the chile pepper. Even European cuisine, although generally considered mild and rich, has been deeply influenced by this ancient self-pollinating crop. In certain regions, chiles have a long legacy as a dietary staple. Yet, once Columbus discovered the American varieties of chile peppers, their influence literally took over the world.
More than just heat, chile peppers lend vibrance to otherwise boring dishes. They offer deep smokey flavor, sweetness and even the acidic note that certain dishes need.
As for versatility, chile peppers are used for all sorts of things around the world including: warding off pests in fields, as dyes, and to keep feet warm in socks. Loaded with Vitamin C and Capsaicin, (a powerful antioxidant) they are thought to cure:
- Sinus Issues
- intestinal disease
- Heart Attacks
- Stomach Ulcers
- High Blood Pressure
- Joint Pain
- Promote Weight Loss
I love to grow fresh peppers in the summer. But this time of year, I rely heavily on the dried varieties.
I recently bought a large bag of red “New Mexico” Chiles at the grocery store. It was somewhat of a perplexing experience, because the bag labeled “New Mexico” chiles read “Grown in Mexico” in small print.
Directly next to them on the shelf were bags of identical-looking “California” chiles, “Grown in Peru.” You see the problem here? Sometimes when you buy chiles in bulk, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting.
What I discovered was that these red chiles are all Anaheims. The heat may vary a tad, due to the climate in which they are grown. Yet they are the same pepper, and are considered the standard chile pepper for Latin-American and Southwest cooking.
Reconstituting dried chiles unleashes a mass of flavor and untold possibilities. This easy Red Pepper Chicken recipe features a bold, deeply smokey, and mildly spicy, red pepper sauce, made out of reconstituted New Mexico chiles.
I simply sauteed some thinly sliced chicken cutlets and blanketed them with warm vivid red pepper sauce. The red pepper sauce offers a rustic quality with a touch of sweetness that makes the chicken ridiculously exciting. It’s a brilliant sauce for the Red Pepper Chicken, but is fantastic on beef and pork as well.
Red Pepper Chicken is my entry for Gojee’s Virtual Potluck next week. Starting on Thursday, January 26, check out other potluck dishes fellow Gojee contributors shared. Go to gojee.com and enter “Gojee Potluck” into I Crave. You can also follow #gojeepotluck on Twitter.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Red Pepper Chicken
For the Red Pepper Sauce:
14-15 dried New Mexico chiles (Anaheims, California)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock (any stock would work)
1 Tb. ground cumin
2 Tb. honey
3 Tb. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
For the Red Pepper Chicken:
2 lbs. Chicken Cutlets (thinly sliced breast meat)
1 Tb. oil
1 Tb. butter
Salt and Pepper
Prepare a bowl of boiling hot water. Place the chiles in the water and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes--until soft to the touch.
Remove the stems, seeds, and membranes, rinsing each pepper in the bowl. Then place in a food processor.
Add the garlic cloves and half the chicken stock. Puree until smooth.
Then add the cumin, honey, vinegar, salt and remaining stock. Puree again until smooth. Taste and salt again if needed. The sauce should have a very intense flavor, but not be overly spicy if the seeds and membranes are properly removed.
Heat a large to medium-high heat. Pat the chicken cutlets dry and salt the pepper on both sides.
Add the oil and butter to the skillet. Once melted, place half the cutlets in the pan.
Saute for 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining cutlets.
To serve: Warm the red pepper sauce and pour over the chicken. Garnish with cilantro leaves or queso fresco.
More Latin-Inspired Dishes:
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