Pollo En Ajo-Comino

Adapted from The Essential Cuisines of Mexico by Diana Kennedy


  • 4 dried ancho chiles, veins and seeds removed
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1 whole clove
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3½ cups of water (approx.)
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4½ pounds large chicken pieces .
  • Garnish : lime wedges, fresh cilantro

Split chiles and remove veins, seeds and stem. Cover the chiles with water and simmer for about 5 minutes, then leave to soak for another 5 minutes. (Do not over soak or all the flavor will be lost to the water).

Drain reserving liquid and transfer chiles to a blender or food processor with ¾ cup of the chile water. Blend until smooth and set aside. In a molcajete or small food processor grind the cumin, peppercorns, salt and clove. Mash in garlic and gradually add ¼ cup water. Set aside.

Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces. Salt and pepper.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Heat until slick but not smoking.

Fry the chicken. Start skin side down about 7-9 minutes on each side. Fry only a few at a time so they don’t touch.

When all the chicken is cooked set aside and drain off excess oil and fat from the pan. Reheat pan over medium heat and add garlic mixture. Fry for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Then add the chile paste and fry for another 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add remaining water (about 3 cups), stir and bring to simmer, and then add cooked chicken and any juices they ran.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring as needed. If you are adding rice do it now. Add more water if necessary. Cover and allow to simmer about 20-30 more minutes. Check liquid, adding more if needed. The rice will absorb a good amount and the sauce should be liquidy when done.

Serve with tortillas and black beans on the side. Garnish with lime and cilantro. Any leftovers will be even better and thicker.