Chicken Stew with Prunes + Olives + Vegetables from Chiapas

An estofado is a kind of stew that is prepared with meat, vegetables and spices and cooked in broth or sauce over low heat.  Because of the extended cooking time, the meat absorbs the flavors of the spices, dried fruits and vegetables resulting in   deliciously tender and flavorful meat.

Stews are a typical dish in Chiapas and this recipe is an adaptation of one by Patricia Quintana from her cookbook, Sabor a Mexico.  The combination of the savory meat, olives, spices and vegetables with the sweetness of the prunes is characteristic of cuisine from this southern state in Mexico.

I have changed the portions a bit because the original recipe makes a lot more food. I have also replaced the potatoes with sweet potatoes, which I think contributes to the subtle sweetness of the dish.  I recommend using the chicken with the bone in and with skin so that the meat becomes fall off the bone tender and the broth more flavorful.


Makes 6 portions

Chicken:

  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 6 large cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 inch piece of Mexican cinnamon
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in, with skin (you can use other parts of the chicken as well)
  • 1 ½ cup of dry white wine
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 cups of water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 stems of thyme
  • 1 cup of prunes
  • 1 cup of green olives
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Vegetables:

  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 2 sweet potatoes or regular potatoes
  • 2 Mexican zucchinis (calabacitas) or yellow or green zucchini

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Preparation:

In a blender or food processor blend the garlic, cinnamon, cloves, some salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Cover the chicken with the mixture and let marinate for two hours.

While the chicken is marinating, heat water in a medium sized pan with a pinch of salt.  When boiling, add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  In the same water add the carrots and cook for 8 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside.  Finally, cook the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes in the same pan, remove and let cool.  When the potatoes have cooled chop into 1 centimeter wide squares and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large, deep pan.  Over medium heat sauté the onions for about 10 minutes being careful not the burn the butter.  When the onions are transparent and beginning brown, remove the onions from the pan and set aside.   With the remaining butter brown the chicken for about 6 minutes on each side.  Add the onions, wine, water, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and continue cooking for 30 minutes.  Add the vegetables, olives and prunes and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Check for salt and let sit for 25 minutes.

Serve over rice and/or with hot tortillas.

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