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Recipe: Esperanza's Chipotle Chicken


Note: Maria Escandon has made lots of "best" lists, but probably not for her cooking. There's no doubt, though, that this chicken dish the novelist and screenwriter ("Esperanza's Box of Saints") created in honor of one of her main characters is a real winner.

This is a fine example of a very cosmopolitan style of Mexican cooking; the chipotle adds a smoky, warm edge to the cream sauce but isn't overpoweringly hot. And the grace notes of sesame seeds, while entirely traditional, emphasize the nuttiness of the cream.

Active Work Time: 25 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 50 minutes

6 whole chicken legs

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Mexican crema

1 to 3 canned chipotle chiles


1/4 cup chicken broth

2 dried California chiles

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Warmed corn tortillas

* Cook chicken in oil in skillet over medium heat until browned, 6 to 8 minutes each side. Cook in batches, if necessary. Remove skin and set chicken aside in Dutch oven.

* Combine milk, 1/2 cup crema, chipotles to taste and salt to taste in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil. Pour into blender and blend until smooth. Pour sauce over chicken and cook over low heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. Add remaining 1/2 cup crema and chicken broth, and cook 5 minutes longer, or until cooked through, gently mixing sauce.

* When ready to serve, place chicken on heated platter. With scissors, cut California chiles crosswise into thin rings, discarding seeds. Sprinkle chicken with sesame seeds and decorate with chile rings. Serve with tortillas.

6 servings. Each serving, without tortillas: 421 calories; 164 mg sodium; 93 mg cholesterol; 38 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 0.31 gram fiber.

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