Pollo en Jocón (sometimes called simply Jocón) is an immensely popular dish all over Guatemala. It originated within the Mayan population in that country. There are many variations of Pollo en Jocón, However, certain ingredients and methods are always constant. Chicken is slowly cooked, simmering, in a delicious, thick, and attractive looking sauce.
The sauce gets its color from cilantro, green tomatillos, ground sesame seeds, ground pumpkin seeds and corn tortillas. Depending on the cook’s personal recipe, and how much of each of the sauce’s ingredients are used, it will have anywhere from a verdant-hinted tan look, all the way up to a bright green. This version of Pollo en Jocón is my favorite, and includes slices of avocado as a garnish. Superb!
Pollo en Jocón Recipe-
- about 3 lb. boneless and skinned chicken breasts (you can use thighs and/or legs, too, my preference is the white meat)
- 4 cups water
- 2 corn tortillas, broken into pieces, soaked in water for about an hour, then drained and patted dry
- 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 4 or 5 serrano chili peppers, rough chopped (Note: for hotter Pollo en Jocón, leave seeds in. For a bit milder – but still quite a bit of zing – remove the seeds)
- 1 cup hulled and chopped tomatillos (if you can’t find fresh, you can use canned tomatillos)
- 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, rough chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, rough chopped
- freshly steamed asparagus spears, for garnish
- In a large pot over high flame, place the water, salt, black pepper, and chicken. Bring it to a vigorous boil, then reduce the flame to just a mild simmer. Slow cook for about an hour, or until the meat is very tender throughout.
- Place the cooked chicken in a bowl, and strain the broth through a sieve over another bowl, to filter out any bits of solids and retain the pure chicken broth.
- Allow the chicken to cool enough to handle, then slice the breasts into large, long chunks and set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium flame with no oil in it. Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring often, until they are browned, but not burnt. Then, transfer them to a coffee grinder and grind the seeds into a fine powder.
- In an electric blender or food processor, add in the toasted seeds powder, tomatillos, cilantro, tortillas, green onions and chili peppers. Add in 1 cup of the chicken broth and process until you have a completely smooth mixture.
- Place the chicken back into the pot. Pour the pureed sauce over the chicken, and add about 1-1/2 cups of the remaining broth – this will be up to you, exactly how much broth to add. The less broth, the thicker the sauce, and of course for less thick, add more.
- Adjust the flame to medium-low, and simmer for another 20 to 25 minutes. Do a taste test after about 15 minutes of simmering, and adjust seasonings if need be.
- Serve your Pollo en Jocón while nice and hot, with asparagus spears for garnish.
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