Steamed Chicken in Guajillo Sauce with Avocado Leaves from the Rincón Jarocho Restaurant

This central Mexican dish, pronounced me-SHOW-tay, is prepared with pork, lamb, fish, rabbit, chicken or beef and marinated in an aromatic mixture of chiles and spices.  It’s traditionally prepared by wrapping the meat and sauce in sheets of the thin outer layer of the maguey leaf and steamed, however now it’s more common that they are steamed in small plastic bags, aluminum foil or parchment paper.

This recipe was taught to me by the five very talented cooks at El Rincon Jarocho, my favorite local fonda – just in case you’re not familiar with the term, fondas are diners that serve cheap, pre-set lunch menus.  Located just a few blocks down the street from my apartment, the ladies at El Rincon Jarocho constantly impress me with their hand-made tortillas, satisfying soups, hearty main dishes and simple, yet delicious desserts.

The restaurant is run by Doña Leti along with Anita, Juanita, Flor and Chavela.  In addition to their amazing food I´m always in awe of how smoothly they work together.  In the mornings they make breakfast for themselves, while Doña Leti hands out vitamins so that they can withstand the long hours standing, cooking, serving and cleaning.  All five of them prepare the daily menu, wash dishes and clean and if you ask who made a particular dish they will always tell you that they all made it.

El Ricón Jarocho´s version of mixiote is steamed in aluminum foil packets and made with a guajillo chile salsa, avocado leaves and chopped cactus.

If you´d like to visit the Rincón Jarocho they are open from 1:30 to 6 pm Monday through Friday for lunch.  They are located in the neighborhood San Rafael in Mexico City on Guillermo Prieto between Altamirano and Rosas Moreno.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ chicken breast, bone-in and divided into 6 portions, or 6 chicken thighs
  • 2 pounds of tomatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 pounds of chopped cactus
  • 12 guajillo chiles, washed and with the stems and seeds removed
  • 6 avocado leaves
  • Knorr suiza or salt to taste

Bring the chopped cactus to a boil in a large to medium sized pot and cook for about 30 minutes or until they have darkened in color  (Note: they will be slimy!) In another pot boil the tomatoes, garlic, onion, black peppercorns, chiles and cloves until the tomato skins start to peal off.

While the vegetables are cooking, cut six pieces of aluminum foil about 40cm long.  Fold in half and then fold over the edges of the right, left and bottom sides leaving an opening at the top to put in the meat, cactus and sauce (See photos).

Strain and set aside the cactus.

Strain the pot with the tomatoes, chiles and spices. Blend and strain the sauce through a sieve.  Heat oil in a medium sized pot and add the tomato sauce.  Cook for about 20 minutes on low heat.  The ladies of El Rincon Jorocho season this dish with Knorr Suiza, if you don’t have any on hand you can use salt. (**Note the sauce should be salty because the meat and cactus will absorb a lot.)

Season the chicken with chicken bouillon or salt (the Rincon Jarocho ladies use knorr suiza´s chicken bouillion).  In each aluminum foil pocket add a piece of chicken, ½ cup of cactus, ¾ cup of sauce and an avocado leaf.  Seal each package.

Place a rack or collapsible vegetable steamer in a large pot with a few inches of water.  Heat until the water is boiling, place the mixiotes in the pot, seal with a layer of aluminum foil, then a layer of cheese cloth and cover.  Lower heat and cook for about an hour if you are cooking chicken breasts and 1 ½ hours if you’re using thighs.

Serve with sliced avocadoes, black beans and tortillas.

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