Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chilmole de Pollo or Pavo For Hanal Pixan

Today is the last day of the celebration of Dias de los Muertos amongst the Maya people.  This is a big feast, especially in the Yucatan.  Maya calendar date currently is 9 Kaban 15 Sak (Chalchihuihtotolin Chicunahui (9) Ollin on the Aztec ritual calendar).  Amongst the dishes served on these feast days and offered up to the dead is Chilmole, a very, very ancient Maya food (it is mentioned in the Popol Vuh), cooked with poultry (pictured in the lower right corner above). The word itself, curiously, is a loan word from Nahuatl ("Aztec"); this is a type of Xak.   Obviously the pre-Columbian version would have been made with Pavo (that is:  turkey), but these days it is mostly made with Pollo (chicken), which were introduced by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  It can also be made with other birds as well, and is particularly good with Pato (duck)!  It is also the perfect cooking medium for turkey parts, especially turkey breast.  The chilmole itself can be purchased to make the dish much easier, mail order is available for it.  In a pinch, jarred sofrito, recado or even mole paste can be mixed home charred and ground dried red chiles to form the base for this.  This is another recipe from Cherry Hamman's Mayan Cooking.

Chimole de Pollo

1 box or recipe Recado de Chilmole (or use suggested substitute above)
Hot freshly made or packaged tortillas

2 chicken (or 2 ducks, or 1 turkey)
10 cup water
1 box or recipe Recado de Chilmole (or substitute)
1 onion, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 cups fresh masa or 1 cup masa harina and 2 cups of water

1.  Brown the whole chicken on a charcoal grill, griddle or heavy skillet.  Continue cooking until the meat is deep brown and partially cooked.

2.  Place the chickens in a large stockpot filled with the water and add the Chilmole.  Throw in the onion and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer.

3.  Mix the masa or masa mixture and pass it either through a sieve or ricer into the pot, stirring frequently to keep from sticking.  Cook until the chicken are done, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Make tortillas or warm packaged tortillas, while this cooks.

To Serve:

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into serving size pieces.  Place a portion in a large soup bowl and drench it with several ladles of chilied broth.  Take a torn piece of tortilla, pull some the meat from the bone and dip it into the sauce.  Provide plenty of napkins.  [my note:  provide some of the raw Chilmole on the side as a kind of "hot sauce."  This is optional] Serves 8

My Note:  when this is served in restaurants, if often shows up on a bed of achioted red rice and is often garnished with pickled red onion.  It is easier to eat this way.  But be sure to still provide the tortillas, and it also a good idea to place some of the broth in a separate bowl on the side, serve with or without extra paste.

Sugar skulls in the Yucatan for Hanal Pixan

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