International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Jocón

Jocon Recipe (Guatemalan chicken in tomatillo-cilantro sauce)

(Guatemalan chicken in tomatillo-cilantro sauce)

Image Creative Commons by Whats4Eats

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Jocón or pollo en jocón is a dish popular with the Mayan population of Guatemala. Chicken is simmered in a tasty sauce tinted a beautiful green by tomatillos and cilantro and thickened with ground sesame and pumpkin seeds and corn tortillas.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Water -- 4 cups
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) -- 1/4 cup
  • Sesame seeds -- 1/4 cup
  • Corn tortillas, chopped, soaked in water, drained -- 2
  • Tomatillos, hulled and chopped -- 1 cup
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 1 bunch
  • Scallions, chopped -- 1 bunch
  • Jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, chopped -- from 1 to 5

Method

  1. Place the chicken, water and salt into a large pot over medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Remove the chicken to a bowl and strain and set aside the broth. Let chicken cool, then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Heat a dry skillet over medium flame. Add the pumpkin and sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, tortillas, tomatillos, cilantro, scallions and chile peppers to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth and process until smooth. If using a blender you may have to do this step in batches.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot. Pour over pureed sauce and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the remaining broth to give it a sauce-like consistency.
  6. Heat over medium-low flame and simmer for an additional 15-25 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Jocon Variations

  • Leave the chicken pieces whole if you prefer.
  • If you can't find pumpkin seeds, simply use 1/2 cup of sesame seeds. And if finding sesame seeds is a problem, you can substitute a slightly smaller amount of tahini.
  • Cubed pork can be substituted for the chicken. There is no need to shred the pork, but you may need to simmer it longer for it to become tender.
  • Use any remaining broth to make rice to accompany the meal.

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