Tarta De Pollo Y Chiltomate
My friend Roberto Santibañez, chef owner of Fonda restaurants in New York City, suggested this combination when I asked him about a chicken pie with Mexican flair. Chicken and vegetables are cooked in a tomato and chile salsa from the Yucatan called chiltomate, then topped with a cornmeal and cheese dough before baking. Though the habanero is a classic for this, serrano or jalapeño could be substituted. Sour cream harmonizes well served alongside.
Makes 1 large pie, 6 to 8 servings
1 batch Cornmeal Dough with or without cheese (see below)
2 green habanero chiles
5 large tomatoes, about 2 pounds, stem ends removed and a cross cut into the blossom end
2 to 3 small cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 pounds skinless and boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cartilage and cut into bite-sized pieces
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive or safflower oil
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium carrots, about 6 ounces, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 cup frozen tiny peas
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- For the chiltomate, preheat the broiler and set a rack about 8 inches from the flame. Cover a pie pan or other small pan with aluminum foil. Place the chiles and tomatoes stem sides up on the pan and broil until the tops begin to blacken and the tomatoes start to soften, about 20 minutes. Use tongs to turn the chiles once or twice—it should take less than 10 minutes for them to soften and for the skin to blacken in spots. By the time the chiles are cooked, the tomatoes should be starting to collapse; let cool for a few minutes. If necessary, remove the chiles and let the tomatoes finish cooking.
- Once the tomatoes and chiles have cooled, slip the skins from the tomatoes and pull the stems from the chiles. Pour the tomato pulp, chiles, garlic, onion, and salt into a blender and blend to a fine puree.
- Sprinkle the chicken pieces all over with salt. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the chicken on both sides in batches, making sure not to overcrowd it. Once all the chicken has been seared and set aside, pour the excess fat from the pan and add the chiltomate. Bring the salsa to a boil, scraping up any brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken, potatoes, and carrots and return to a boil. Lower to a simmer, set the cover ajar on the pan, and cook until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Set a rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 375°F. Lightly oil an 8- to 10-cup baking dish.
- Stir the peas, cilantro, and mint into the chicken and vegetables. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Scrape into the prepared gratin dish.
- Roll the cornmeal dough out on a floured surface until it is roughly the size of the baking dish. Lift the dough onto the filling using a thin, flexible cookie sheet, and cut several vent holes in the top. Or cut the dough into 2 1/2- to 3-inch disks and overlap on the filling to cover.
- Bake until the crust is deep golden and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the pie for a few minutes before serving.
- To serve, use a large spoon to remove a portion of the crust onto a soup plate. Pour a couple of large spoonfuls of the filling next to it.
Makes enough for 1 large tart or single-crusted pie
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
2/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 pieces
1 large egg
- Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times at 1-second intervals to mix.
- Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until it is finely mixed into the dry ingredients.
- Add the egg and pulse again until the dough just starts to form a ball.
- Invert the dough onto a lightly floured surface and quickly press it together.
- Form the dough into a disk shape and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate until needed.
CORNMEAL DOUGH WITH CHEESE: Add 1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyère or cheddar along with the butter.