Pollo a la Yuca Teca

After wandering the amazing ruins of Chichen Itza, and taking my fill of Maya photos, I wandered away from the architectural site and located a little diner with a daily special called “Pollo a la Yuca Teca”.  It was time for a cultural treat.  I didn't know exactly what I was getting, but it was chicken, so it couldn't be too daring.

Chicken a la Yuca Teca was served with pickled red onions, black refried beans and rice.  Of course, there were tortillas and hot sauce.  I have had lots of “hot” sauce in Mexico.  Usually, it's a pleasant little addition of herbs and spices but there is no fire.  This sauce was made from habanero peppers and it was flaming.  I loved it.

The actual chicken was fried and then cooked in a red achiote sauce.  Another Mexican mystery.  I asked to see the achiote since I didn't know what it was.  I looked kind of like a red paste made from paprika.  Actually, the spice dates back to Maya times where it was also used as a red dye and for currency.  My waiter said the achiote was mixed up with orange juice and a little water to prepare the marinade.  It gave the dish a red color and the taste is described as nutty or peppery.  I can vouch that it was delicious.  It was, after all, fried chicken.

Pollo a la Yuca Teca
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Ingredients: Chicken enough to serve 6   3 cups orange juice
  6 Chili guajillo   2 Tbs achiote paste
  1/2 purple onion   1 cup white vinegar
  3 habanero chile peppers   2 cloves of garlic
  juice of 5 limes   tortillas, refried beans and rice
  salt   .....optional but so necessary

Fry up your chicken for about fifteen minutes. That's not long enough to cook your bird, but if you shift the position frequently, it should seal it.

While your bird is frying, you are supposed to soak the guajillo chile peppers for five minutes. I do not like to multi-task in the kitchen. I think I can manage soaking peppers, but I don't know what guajillo peppers are. If you decide to substitue this for some red pepper flakes, I'll never tell.

More multi-tasking! Slice up the onion -- and if you are brave enough to face the heat -- add the habanero chile peppers. Soak them in the lime juice with a pinch of salt to marinate on their own. If you look closely at my photo, you'll see there were actually no hot peppers mixed with the onions. But, they were in the homemade salsa in the black bowl, believe me!

Now, if you found guajillo chiles and you soaked them for five minutes, they are ready to go into a blender. In addition to the chiles (or red pepper flakes, shhh!) add the orange juice, achiote paste, white vinegar and garlic.

I've already told you what achiote paste looks like. It might be in an ethnic grocery store or available online. If you just give up and can't find it, I read that you can use 2 Tbs of chile powder, a teaspoon of oregano and a teaspoon of cumin.

Whatever you put in your blender, blend it up well. You want to liquify it.

Finally, you have everything ready. The chicken has been sealed and the sauce is prepared. Put the meat in a pan and cover it with the sauce. Simmer the dish for 45 minutes until the meat is fully cooked.

If you want a truly Mexican dish, you have to serve it up with tortillas, rice and black refried beans. If you don't do this, you're just missing out on a Yucatan experience.

Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.