Mexican comfort food. Well, maybe somewhere between Mex and Tex-Mex. Doesn’t matter. Chicken with tomatillo sauce is all about simple, satisfying flavours. Tomatillo, jalapeño, garlic, onion, chicken. That’s just good living.
This is a house favourite. Been around forever. I know I didn’t invent it. Maybe I evolved it though. I can’t remember. I owe somebody out there. But I don’t know who.
Chicken with tomatillo sauce starts with a good tomatillo sauce
Tomatillo sauce is a super versatile ingredient. You can use it in chicken with tomatillo sauce but there are so many other things you can do with it.
Think pork stew with tomatillo sauce. Chili verde. Brown some pork stew and simmer it in this sauce. That is one of my all time faves.
Or make a roast pork seasoned with Mexican spices and deglaze the pan with a bit of tomatillo sauce. Basically any time this sauce comes up against pan drippings you are in for a treat.
Crispy skin makes this special
Chicken with tomatillo sauce works because the chicken cooks in a sauce. But the skin stays above the liquid. So you get the best of both worlds.
A super flavourful sauce. For sure. But the crunch of crispy skin. That wonderful flavour and texture. That’s what keeps me coming back for more.
And it’s a technique you can use all over the place. Any time you’re making a braised chicken dish think about doing it this way. All the taste of a braise. And roast chicken. Magic.
The juices from the chicken bring it all together
There’s not much to chicken with tomatillo sauce. Not a lot of ingredients. It’s about the juices from the chicken cooking into the sauce.
That’s the key. Huge. That’s a trick you can use almost anywhere. Any time you can get fond or juices into your sauce you have a winner. Make this dish or don’t but remember that trick. It’s a game changer.
I use that trick in a lot of cooking. It’s the basis of gravy. Its how you make pan sauces. Think about it. Any time you are cooking and you scape up the bits of flavour in the bottom of the pan it has been a hit. See what I mean?
That’s the Maillard reaction in action. If haven’t heard of the Maillard reaction it’s a bit of culinary magic that happens amino acids hit heat. There’s real science behind it but all you need to know is brown food is tasty food.
Chicken with tomatillo sauce. Try it with pinto beans. Or black beans. Re-fried beans. Any beans. Some corn tortillas on the side. You get the picture…
chicken with tomatillo sauce
- 6 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos
- 2-3 jalapeños - seeded and minced
- 1 large onion - finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 tsp creole seasoning - plus more to season the chicken
- up to 3/4 cup chicken stock
- olive oil
- salt - to taste
- cilantro - to garnish
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the tomatillos for 10 minutes. Drain and chop.
- Heat a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer over medium heat.
- Coat the chicken thighs with olive oil and season liberally with creole seasoning.
- Film the skillet with olive oil.
- Place the chicken, skin side down and cook until golden brown.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and remove all but 2 Tbsp of fat.
- Saute the onions and jalapeños until soft, around 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Mix in the tomatillos and 2 tsp creole seasoning and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Now add 1/4 cup chicken stock and nestle the chicken in the sauce. It's critical to keep the skin above the liquid or it will get soggy.
- Roast the chicken until you get an internal temperature of 175F, about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on the dish. If the sauce gets too dry (like it looks like it might burn) add another 1/4 cup chicken stock.
- When the chicken is done remove the skillet from the oven. Remove the chicken and set aside. If the sauce is too runny place the skillet over medium heat and reduce until you get a saucy but not runny consistency. If it's too dry, add a bit more chicken stock.
- Adjust for salt.
- Garnish with a bit of cilantro.
- Serve the chicken over the sauce.