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Pollo Encacahuatado (Chicken in Peanut Sauce)

If you’re nuts about nuts, you’ll love this Mexican recipe for chicken in a spicy peanut sauce also known as “pollo encacahuatado”. Every bite of the tender chicken is accompanied by a rich, creamy sauce made from roasted peanuts and dried chilies. If you enjoy this dish you’ll have to check out this creamy chipotle chicken recipe next!

Pollo encacahuatado and white rice on a black plate.

The story of encacahuatado de pollo

Like typical Mexican dishes where the meat is swimming in a large amount of sauce, encacahuatado is meat immersed in peanut sauce and spices. The sauce has a creamy texture and is just mildly spicy. 

The sauce-making process is referenced in the dish’s name, which is derived from the word cacahuate (peanut). This dish is also known as “pollo al cacahuate” or “mole de cacahuate” in Mexico and can be prepared using pork or beef instead of chicken.

This dish is particularly well-liked across Mexico, but notably in the country’s central region. Traditional Mexican sauces like mole are made with several types of chillies and seeds. In Veracruz, people typically toast or roast raw peanuts for use in sauces. 

It is thought that encacahuatado de pollo originated in Puebla and has origins in mole. It is made up of chunks of chicken that are cooked in a delectable peanut sauce that is made with fat, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peanuts, chilies, cinnamon, and chicken stock. The sauce is cooked with the meat until all the tastes are well-balanced.

The traditional mole poblano (originating in the state of Puebla) and the Veracruzan encacahuatado, which are served with chicken, pork, or as a sauce for enchiladas called encacahuatadas, both contain peanuts as a main

component.

What is it made of?

Here are the key ingredients we need to make our Encacahuatado de Pollo or Chicken in Peanut Sauce:

Chicken

Due to the forgiving nature of the skin-on dark meat, drumsticks are excellent for this dish.

The enhanced fat content keeps it moist and delicious while retaining moisture.

But feel free to use any type of chicken you have on hand, including bone-in thighs, wings, breasts, and whole chopped chickens.

In either case, the creamy and gritty roasted peanut sauce gives our chicken excellent flavors.

Cacahuates

The Mexican-Spanish word cacahuates translates to peanuts in English.

For this dish I used dry roasted lightly salted peanuts. This saves time because I won’t have to roast the peanuts myself.

Peanuts are a good source of protein, fiber, Vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium. Using them in our dish is a great way to add vitamins and nutrients for our whole family.

Spices

With a variety of spices, including garlic, bay leaves, cloves, ground pepper, cumin, and cinnamon, we’re giving our dish a ton of flavor.

The quantity of spices listed in the ingredients list below is merely a guide and may be changed.

The tastes that you and your family prefer the most is always the order of the day. Adjust the spices accordingly.

Dried chilies

This dish contains dried chili peppers from the arbol and guajillo varieties. After ancho peppers, bright red guajillo peppers are used in Mexican cuisine most frequently.

Small Mexican peppers known as “chile de arbol” have an acidic heat and a grassy flavor. 

You could also add ancho and pasilla chilis in your encacahuatado de pollo. Use whatever pepper you like as a substitute.

De-seed one or two of them if you wish to reduce the heat. In their place, use two teaspoons of cayenne and two teaspoons of paprika if you can’t find Mexican chillies.

How to make it

Add the chicken drumsticks to a pot and add the garlic, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and black pepper.

The aromatics are optional but they do add additional flavor to the chicken so I don’t recommend you omit them.

Cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover.

Simmer for about 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Once the chicken is done, scoop up the chicken drumsticks. Strain the chicken broth, and set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the broth for the sauce

A pot of chicken drumsticks and aromatics.

Now it’s time to get started on the sauce.

Over medium heat warm up the oil in a large skillet.

When it’s hot, add the onion and sauté until softened for a few minutes. Season with salt.

Then add the garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute.

Reduce the heat to low and add the chilies to the skillet, cooking until lightly toasted on each side.

Keep an eye on the chilies and be careful not to burn them, as this will result in a bitter taste.

Next add the tomatoes and chicken broth to the skillet.

Cook on medium-high heat until the tomatoes soften. This should take approximately 10 minutes. 

Toasting ingredients

Then transfer the ingredients in the skillet including the 1 1/2 cups chicken broth to a blender.

Also add the peanuts, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Peanut sauce ingredients in a blender.

Return the blended sauce to the skillet. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

Add the cooked chicken to the skillet and make sure to coat it in the sauce.

Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. This will help thicken the sauce a bit.

Then it’s ready!

Chicken drumsticks in a peanut sauce.

Recipe Variations

As with any recipe, make it your own by modifying it to suit your preferences and tastes. Utilize chipotle pepper in place of arbol and ancho pepper in place of guajillo, or add more spices. 

Blending the sauce for 3–4 minutes will make it smoother, in my opinion. On the other hand, blend the sauce for no longer than a minute if you prefer a somewhat chunkier texture.

The consistency of the sauce can vary also according to how long you leave it to boil. The longer you boil it, the thicker it becomes.

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Chicken in peanut sauce

Are you ready to make this yummy chicken in peanut sauce or “pollo encacahuatado”? This Mexican recipe is simple to make, easy on the wallet but absolutely mouthwatering.

I hope you enjoyed today’s recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments below. And don’t forget to leave it a rating!

A plate with pollo encacahuatado and white rice.
Chicken in peanut sauce and white rice on a black plate.
5 from 1 vote
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Pollo Encacahuatado

Pollo encacahuatado is a delicious Mexican recipe consisting of chicken in a peanut sauce.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken in peanut sauce, pollo encacahuatado
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 405 kcal
Author Carissa

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup peanuts dry roasted and lightly salted
  • 1/2 white onion roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 roma tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 guajillo chilies seeds removed and deveined
  • 3 arbol chilies
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbs olive oil

Instructions

For the chicken

  1. Add the chicken drumsticks to a pot and add the garlic, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and black pepper.

  2. Cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover.

  3. Simmer for about 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  4. Once the chicken is done, scoop up the chicken drumsticks. Strain the chicken broth, and set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the broth for the sauce.

For the sauce

  1. Over medium heat warm up the oil in a large skillet.

  2. When it's hot, add the onion and sauté until softened for a few minutes. Season with salt.

  3. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another minute.

  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the chilies to the skillet, cooking until lightly toasted on each side.

  5. Next add the tomatoes and chicken broth to the skillet. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

  6. Transfer the ingredients in the skillet including the 1 1/2 cups chicken broth to a blender. Also add the peanuts, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Blend until smooth.

  7. Return the blended sauce to the skillet. Taste for salt. Add the cooked chicken to the skillet and make sure to coat it in the sauce.

  8. Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.

  9. Serve and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts
Pollo Encacahuatado
Amount Per Serving
Calories 405 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 113mg38%
Sodium 1574mg68%
Potassium 676mg19%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 1079IU22%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating




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