The Mexicans Get It Right Every Time! Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate (Chicken with Peanut Salsa)

Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate

Ever have one of those days where the only thing that gets you through is knowing you are going to have a good meal later on?  I have no idea where I read about this dish, but one day, trying to unwind after a long, frustrating and tiring day of putting out the fires that are usually started by teenage drama (I moonlight as a school counselor, in case you forgot), a mental picture of this dish formed in my head and I immediately went to the store to try and make it.  This dish is definitely not for the nut-hater.   But, maybe it could be?  As a girl who used to eat peanut butter on a spoon every day for breakfast (I’ve now matured to peanut butter spread on multigrain toast), this dish made me very, very happy.

Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate

It’s not surprising that Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate  is a traditional dish from Puebla, Mexico.  Puebla is often thought of as the gastronomic mecca of Central Mexico and happens to be the birthplace of mole, that beautiful, dark, chocolatey sauce made of over thirty ingredients including nuts and seeds, and pipians, another sweet yet savory sauce using ground nuts and seeds.  Peanuts have been part of Mexican cooking since long before Spain invaded in the 15th century and are often used as a thickening agent.  Poblano cuisine, specifically,  is typically made of indigenous and local ingredients and, let me tell you, Pueblo is on my “must go” lists of places to travel to (and eat, eat, eat in).

Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate

Traditionally, this dish should be made with dried chiles.  We used dried chiles in ours and I really just wanted to kick it up, so I added some chipotles in adobo.  For me, it added extra spice and the adobo added more flavor than the dried chiles did. In fact, I think you could leave out the dried chiles if you don’t have any on hand and just add some chipotles in adobo. It’s rare I’ll move away from the traditional but, in this case, flavor-wise I think it would be ok.  I also did not make this in a mortar and pestle and, again, although not traditional, a blender worked just fine.

Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate

CHICKEN WITH PEANUT SALSA (Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate)
(serves 4)

  • 2 to 3 lbs. of chicken pieces with skin
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup unsalted raw peanuts, lightly roasted till brown
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 dried pasilla (or guajillo) chiles, rehydrated and chopped up
  • 3 chipotles in adobo + some of the adobo (if you don’t like it spicy, start with 1 or 2 and decide if you want to add more)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic),whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • optional: 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • squeeze of lime
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • hot chicken stock
  • some oil
  • blender
  1. Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper and saute in a bit of oil until brown all over.  When skin has taken on color and is a bit crispy, remove to a plate.
  2. In a separate  dry pan, brown peanuts – this doesn’t take long – about 30 seconds if that. Don’t burn them! Take off heat and keep on the side.
  3. Add a bit more oil if necessary and throw in your garlic, onions and rehydrated pasilla and saute until they take on some color and the onions soften.
  4. In a blender, first add the onion,  garlic and pasilla mixture and blend with a bit of warm chicken stock.  Try to puree it as best as possible.   Add the chipotles along with a tablespoon of adobo and blend.  Add the peanuts to the blender along with another bit of chicken stock and puree until smooth.  You do not want the texture of the sauce to be like peanut butter, you want it smooth with some liquid in it. Add the cinnamon, clove and some fresh ground pepper.  Blend.  Taste  the sauce for extra seasoning. Does it need more salt or pepper? Do you like it spicier?  Add more adobo or whole chipotles if you do.  Add a bit more chicken stock so it is not too thick.
  5. When sauce is as you like it, bring it back to the pan you cooked the chicken in and add some along with a bit more chicken stock. With a spoon, pick up all the goodness that collected at the bottom of the pan and stir. Add the chicken to the pan, add a bit more sauce along with a bit more stock and allow chicken to simmer for another fifteen to twenty minutes.  Add a squeeze of lime juice to the sauce.  Serve with some rice and enjoy.

Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate

35 thoughts on “The Mexicans Get It Right Every Time! Pollo en Salsa de Cacahuate (Chicken with Peanut Salsa)

  1. This looks so good I could lick the screen. On my “to try” list right now.

    Peanut sauce is not something you think of when you think of Mexico. I tend to think more of Southeast Asia or Africa. Your dish is educational.

  2. This is a beautiful recipe. I don’t know a huge amount about Mexican cuisine as it’s only just kicking off over here as I’m sure you know. We just don’t have a great history with Mexican food. I may have to start a little adventure by trying out some of your recipes.

  3. This looks absolutely delicioso! I would have loved to include it in the Mexico round-up for the Culinary Tour but, alas, it’s already posted. Hope you’ll join me at another destination.

  4. peanut butter on a spoon is way better than on wheat toast, and as familiar I am with Mexican food, I’ve never really been keen to the notion of it in their cuisine. Your pics are gorgeous and make for a fantastic dinner at home!

  5. Hi you two! I have been reading your blog in my email, but thought I should actually drop in to say hello. 🙂

    This just confirms for me again that Thai and Mexican are kindred cuisines. This would be great for wings.

  6. I used to work in a Mexican restaurant that served a peanut sauce with their chicken fajitas; this looks even better. I’m also a fan of Poblano cooking- I’ve never tackled mole, but I made a pollo pipian last year from one of Rick Bayless’s books that was wonderful.

  7. it’s a lovely mix of spices, really lovely. the photography is, as always beautiful. i adore chipotles in adobo- it must add so many layers of flavours to the dish. best wishes, shayma

  8. Looks incredible. I’m one who’s all about kicking it up with some chipotles en adobo… call me a rule breaker, but that smoky heat simply rocks.

  9. You always exactly know what i want to eat. ALWAYS!! I suspect you both of having psychic powers. 🙂 Me, in the meantime, can foresee this peanut salsa in my near future. hehe

  10. I got a memory of a mole made with a lot of peanuts and spicy, I remembered eating that at my aunt house when I was seven. A few years ago I asked my sister if she knew the recipe but she never remember ev that dish so I tought maybe that was a dream and that it never happened. I’m 28 and I’m pregnat and yesterday I got a craving for that dish so I google it, thank god I found this, I making it tomorrow. Tank you for this recipe

  11. The authentic dish where my family is from does NOT use chicken stock. The idea of using it ruins the entire recipe for me. The rest sounds great. Very original adding the chipotle in adobo sauce.

  12. I have loved this dish since i first ate it 12 yrs ago and infact had it made as the main course for our wedding feast meal. Just finished eating it tonight again and as always my wife does a superb job of making it.

  13. How do you think this might work with leftover red enchilada sauce in place of the pepper-onion-broth puree? Trying to think of something creative to use it up.

    1. @ChristinaM: (sorry for the slow reply) did you try it? How was it? Another way could have been to make chilaquiles with the enchilada sauce. Not a huge mental leap, of course, but an easy and delicious dish.

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!