Tested and Perfected by Food and Wine

Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Pollo Encacahuetado)

  • SERVINGS: 4
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

When Mexicans want to say "I couldn't care less," they'll remark "Me importa un cacahuete"—I couldn't care a peanut. The expression obviously does not refer to food, because peanuts are prized all over Mexico, especially in Veracruz.

  1. 2 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
  2. Boiling water
  3. 1 cup raw peanuts, shelled and skinned (4 ounces)
  4. 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  5. 1 hard roll, cut into 1-inch pieces
  6. 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  7. 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  8. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  9. 1 teaspoon sugar
  10. 1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  12. One 3 1/2 -pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  13. 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  14. 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  15. 1/2 cup dry red wine
  16. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  1. Soak the ancho chiles in boiling water until softened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, toast the peanuts over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. Drain the anchos and transfer to a blender. Add the peanuts, tomatoes, hard roll, onion, chipotles, garlic and sugar and puree until smooth.
  3. Combine the cinnamon and salt and sprinkle all over the chicken. Heat the oil in the large skillet until shimmering. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until golden, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet. Add the peanut sauce and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock, wine and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Nestle the pieces of chicken in the sauce and simmer over moderately low heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Make Ahead The chicken can be refrigerated for up to 2 days ahead.

Suggested Pairing

The spicy, earthy peanut sauce suggests a California Zinfandel to match.