Pollo con Chile

Packed with serranos, jalapeños, and chiles de árbol, this shredded chicken and tomato salsa dish has a spicy kick.

Pollo con Chile

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Audrey Taylor

Active Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
4 to 6 servings

Fresh and dried chiles mingle in a lightly charred tomato salsa that simmers with shredded chicken to give this dish a spicy kick. To tame the heat, Lorena Herrera, co-owner of Mi Sueño Winery, likes to serve the dish with mayocoba beans and warm tortillas on the side. “Tender chicken with a sauce from grilled tomatoes, garlic, chiles, onions, and spices — it’s a delightful Mexican dish that reminds me of when I was growing up. Roll a spoonful in a fresh, handmade tortilla, pour yourself a glass of our Napa Cabernet, and toast to the divine gods of delicious food,” says Herrera.


  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes (about 2 pounds), cored

  • 2 to 4 chiles de árbol

  • 1 to 2 (1/2-ounce) serrano chiles 

  • 1 small (1 1/2-ounce) jalapeño chile

  • 1 small (7-ounce) white onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 3 large garlic cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or avocado oil, plus more as needed

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • Warm flour tortillas, for serving

  • Cooked beans (such as mayocoba or canela) (see Note), for serving

  • Grilled vegetables (such as bell pepper and zucchini), cut into bite-size pieces, for serving


  1. Preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Place tomatoes, chiles de árbol, serrano, and jalapeño on oiled grates; grill, uncovered and turning occasionally, until tomatoes and chiles are blistered and charred in spots, about 5 seconds for chiles de árbol and 8 to 10 minutes for tomatoes, serrano, and jalapeño. (Alternatively, heat a large cast-iron skillet over high until smoking. Place tomatoes, chiles de árbol, serrano, and jalapeño in hot skillet; cook, turning occasionally, until tomatoes and chiles are blistered and charred in spots, about 1 minute for chiles de árbol and 10 to 12 minutes for tomatoes, serrano, and jalapeño.) Remove from heat; set aside, and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

  2. Peel tomatoes; discard skins. Stem chiles de árbol, serrano, and jalapeño. Transfer tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, and salt to a blender; process until smooth, about 25 seconds. Set salsa aside.

  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high. Working in 2 batches and adding more oil as needed between batches, add chicken, and cook, undisturbed, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Stir salsa into Dutch oven, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot using a wooden spoon. Stir in 1 cup water, garlic salt, cumin seeds, and black pepper. Return chicken to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, salsa mixture thickens slightly, and chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Season with salt to taste. Serve with flour tortillas, beans, and grilled vegetables.

To make ahead

Salsa can be made through step 2 up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Mayocoba beans, also known as peruano or canario beans, have a creamy texture similar to cannellini beans and are available at most Latin American grocery stores, or purchase online at ranchogordo.com.

Suggested pairing

To go with her recipe, Herrera recommends her winery’s Mi Sueño Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. “A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, with its vibrant aroma of ripe red berries and hints of sweet vanilla and black pepper, matches up well with the layered flavors in this pollo con chile,” she says.

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