A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pipián Verde

So I made a pipián, the pre-Columbian dish made from toasted squash seeds, tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, and a few other things ground up and stewed with poultry. James Peyton's recipe called for duck, preferably wild, but I used a chicken.

I didn't know quite what it would taste like -- I'd never eaten one before -- and couldn't quite imagine the flavor, so I didn't tweak the recipes much (Peyton + Gabilondo + internet). Next time I will. It was rich but not as full of chile flavor as I would have liked. And a whole chicken was too much food with all that thick nutty sauce. It was mostly like a dull mole (and indeed, Peyton says pipians are like ancestors of moles -- basically pre-roux sauces thickened by tortillas or nuts).

Toasting the pumpkin seeds was fun; they popped and danced and browned nicely. But even with a whole cup of cilantro and some green chiles, the sauce was a kind of an icky light brown. Next time I'll use a whole bunch of poblanos and tomatillos and fewer pumpkin seeds. A little white wine or vermouth would be good. Maybe more oregano. Lime juice instead of vinegar for brightness. And I think I'll cook the sauce for less time -- use breasts or smaller pieces and only cook the thing for 45 minutes or so once the chicken is browned. I don't think it was improved by the few hours of stewing.

Lawson's growing tomatillos this year, so it shouldn't be long before I try again.

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