Mexico The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking

Pollo Frito de Aguascalientes | Fried Chicken Aguascalientes-style

Whenever I come across a vintage recipe that is attributed to a specific locale, I always like to do a little digging and find out whether it is truly a popular marker of that place or just some forgotten curio saved from the brink of extinction by the author. In some cases we find an ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, where the only clues to the recipes existence point back to the same recipe.

The Portales of San Marcos by William Henry Jackson | 1880

Well, forgotten curio this is not. Taken from the central Mexican city of Aguascalientes, this fried chicken dish is a staple of the San Marcos Fair, an annual agricultural fair that can trace its roots all the way back to 1828. When exactly this fried chicken dish became the synonymous ‘street food’ of the fair is anyone’s guess. But, it was already firmly entrenched as a culinary tradition by the time Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz came around in 1967 to record it. And thank God she did. This dish is really comfort food at its best and eating it you can almost hear the bustling market chaos of 19th century Mexico: fried chicken, smothered in an aromatic tomato sauce seasoned with cinnamon and clove, enriched with potatoes Mexican chorizo and then lightened with the bright, spicy acidity of the pickled serrano chiles on the side. It doesn’t get much better than this. Gourmet Plunder at its best.

Ingredients

2 lbs of assorted chicken pieces (drumsticks and thighs work well)
1 cup chicken stock
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup butter
3 Idaho potatoes, cooked, peeled, thickly sliced
2 chorizo, skinned, chopped
1 can serrano chiles
1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions

  1. Poach chicken pieces in stock for 45 minutes.
  2. Lift chicken out and then add tomatoes, onions, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, oregano to stock. Season with salt and pepper with a pinch of sugar.
  3. Simmer down until thick, add lemon juice and set aside.
  4. Dip chicken pieces in sauce and then fry in the oil and butter until brown on both sides.
  5. Repeat this process for the potatoes.
  6. Fry sausage in remaining oil and drain.
  7. Lay chicken, potatoes, and sausage on serving platter and then pour remaining sauce over top.
  8. Serve with a generous bowl of pickled serrano chiles.