Chicken with Green Pipian and White Rice
1 whole chicken, about 3lbs
2.5lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 large white onion
1/2 head of garlic
2 cups pumpkin seeds
3 poblano chiles
3 serrano chiles
1 sprig epazote
1 tsp oergano
1 tsp cumin
small bunch of cilantro
2 cups of rice
salt and pepper
Cut the chicken into 10 pieces by separating the drumstick from thigh, then taking the wings off. Platform the chicken on one end and cut down vertically along the sides of the spinal column to separate the bone. Using your thumbs, press the solar plexus of the chicken so the cartilage between the breasts disconnects in one piece as well as the breastbone. Separate the breast into two pieces lengthwise with the bone and all, then split them crosswise — this helps keep the breast juicy during cooking. Save the spare chicken bones. Season all the pieces liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and pour in ½ cup of vegetable oil. Fry all the pieces, skin side down first, for about 3 minutes on each side or just until gold and crisp. They don’t need to be cooked through at all, just seared and put aside to cool. Place the leftover bones in a small sauce pot with ¾ of a gallon of water and simmer for about 40 minutes….we’ll call this instant chicken stock, strain and set aside.
Place tomatillos, ½ of the white onion chopped in medium pieces, and four cloves of garlic on a flat sheet tray and place under your oven’s broiler for about 15 minutes or until charred and softened. Roast the poblanos over an open flame as to char them on all sides, place them in a plastic bag so they steam for about 5 minutes, then remove from the bag. With a towel, rub off the charred thin skin from the poblanos and, using a small knife, remove the stems. Heat a small skillet on high heat and with no oil toast the Serrano chiles until charred, set aside. In the same hot, dry skillet toast the pumpkin seeds, moving frequently until they blister slightly and feel crunchy to the bite. Lastly, in the same dry, hot skillet toss in the oregano and cumin for only a few seconds so the aroma is released; set aside. Place the tomatillos, onions, garlic, serranos, poblanos, pumpkin seeds, cumin, oregano and epazote in a blender with just a little bit of chicken stock to cover. Blend the sauce mixture for about 5-10 minutes until it feels very smooth and almost creamy. Strain into a sauce pot and simmer for 20 minutes, removing with a ladle any foam that accumulates. Look for a slightly thickened sauce consistency and season to taste. Keep the sauce simmering and now add the chicken to the pot, stir to combine but do not over agitate. Cook the chicken in the pipian until done to the bone.
Finely dice the other half of the white onion and mince two cloves of garlic. In a wide sauce pot, heat 3 tbsp of oil over medium heat and begin to fry the rice, stirring frequently until opaque. Once opaque, add the onion and garlic and cook until slightly translucent. Add 1qt of the chicken stock and stir, bring to a boil then simmer and cover over very low heat for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked through but not mushy.
Place a bed of rice on a plate, serve a piece of chicken over and ladle the sauce generously over. Garnish with diced avocado, chopped cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds.