Chicken Chili Verde, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Lard

11 06 2008

We are getting pretty good at making Mexican food with French ingredients, if I do say so myself.  Having recently come into a glut of cheap chicken leg quarters, Nick decided to try his hand at some chicken chili verde.  Yet another braise.  It’s amazing how many different cuisines use this technique – but then who doesn’t love something you can put on the stove and forget about for a couple of hours?

Mise en place for chili verde
Nick found some gorgeous green chilis at the market, and chopped them up along with some onion and garlic.  After the chicken had been browned, into the Dutch oven they went.

You can almost SEE how good this smells!

You should know the drill by now.  Liquid, skinned chicken, simmer, yada yada.  What Nick did that was special, was that once the chicken was good and tender, he shredded it off the bones, returned it to the pot, and continued to cook it until the pot was almost dry.  This really concentrates the flavors and gives the meat a texture that is absolutely out of this world.  Unctuous, even.  Here it is about halfway done:

Mouthwatering chicken chili verde

Meanwhile, I was charged with making the tortillas.  We have given up on finding any decent ones in this country, so when we make Mexican food, I usually make tortillas to go with it.  It does take a little time and practice, but the end result is definitely worth it.  This time, however, I found some lard in the grocery store, tucked away next to the butter, and used that instead of oil in the dough as well as for frying the tortillas.  Let me tell you, the difference is huge.  The dough was more pliable and less sticky, and they cooked up soft with the delicious flavor that only hog fat can impart.  Mmmm… hog fat.

The best tortilla in Paris

Nick also made a fresh pico de gallo to accompany our dinner.  I swear the tomatoes are getting better every week.  (Oh, right, can’t buy tomatoes in the US at the moment.  Sorry.)

Tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime...

We each put together a couple of tacos.  Even given the incredible smells emanating from the kitchen, we were still a little surprised at how extremely delicious it all was.  The chicken was darn near rillette consistency, the tortillas were as fresh as we’ve ever had, and the pico made an excellent foil to the richness of the chili verde, all tempered by the smooth tang of crème fraîche.

Mexican food - fabriqué en France

So that’s one taste of home down.  Now if only we could find a good cheeseburger…

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7 responses

11 06 2008
Hopie

That looks amazing. Are there any leftovers? ‘Cause here’s the thing: I know a place to get a very decent cheeseburger here and I’d be willing to make a deal ;-)

12 06 2008
croquecamille

Sorry, the leftovers are long gone. But if you’ve got someplace other than Breakfast in America in mind, I’m sure we can arrange something…

12 06 2008
Hails

I cannot express how hungry this blog makes me feel every time I drop by! Can I come visit when I get to France in my travels? I could bring Estonian food of your choosing. ;)

13 06 2008
croquecamille

Given I don’t know anything about Estonian food, I’ll leave the choice up to you!

15 06 2008
Hopie

Breakfast in America? Goodness, no! Who do you take me for? I think we’ll have to get in touch for the terms of the deal, but I’m confident we’ll be able negotiate successfully. ;-)

2 07 2008
Esme Duran-Spie

OK, this really made my mouth water! My parents are Mexican, I was born in Fort Worth, Texas and I now live in Paris. It’s so hard to find, and when you do, it’s SOO expensive. I MISS Mexican food. My boyfriend (a French cutie turned Mexican food lover) and I have been looking for good corn torillas to make enchiladas, based on a recipe my mom gave me, but have had no luck. Any suggestions? Also, your flour torillas look great – we tried making them following a combination of a Mexican recipe book and my mom’s instructions, but they turned out hard and tasteless…any suggestions on that? I guess I should have paid attention to the way my mom made food when I lived at home!

3 07 2008
croquecamille

Obviously, we miss Mexican food, too. We try to cook it on a fairly regular basis. But we have not had any luck with corn tortillas, either. I was on a quest for masa to make my own a while back, but every store I found out about that might carry it was later determined to be closed for good. I’ve tried mixing some fine cornmeal into my flour tortillas, but it’s not the same. As for the flour tortillas, the lard makes all the difference. In Paris you can find blocks of it next to the butter in the supermarket. There’s an earlier post on here where I got into more detail about the tortilla-making process, as well as link to a video of Robert Rodriguez (the director) demonstrating his recipe.




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