Mixiotes are the leaves of the Maguey (a type of Agave) which are used to enclose steamed «papillotes». This Central Mexican recipe can be made using a variety of meats and vegetables. This version, made with chicken, was recently made by our colleague Blanca, for a staff lunch. If you can’t find Maguey leaves, feel free to replace them with aluminium foil to fashion a well-sealed “papillote”.
- 6 chicken thighs and/or legs
- 1 large carrot
- 12 small New potatoes
- 2-3 nopal (cactus leaves) or 36 green beans
- 6 bay leaves
- ½ recipe Mixiote adobo (recipe below)
- 6 12–inch aluminum foil squares
- 1 Guajillo chile
- 4 Pasilla chiles
- 4 Ancho Negro chiles
- 3 Tbsp annatto seeds
- 8 allspice berries
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp epazote (substitute if necessary by using more oregano)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 6 garlic cloves
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp salt
Heat a stove on medium and roast two chilies at a time, on each side for 10 seconds to soften. Open the chilies, remove the stems and seeds.
Repeat with the remaining chilies.
Rinse chilies under running water, then place them in a bowl. Barely cover with warm water and allow them to rehydrate for 30 minutes.
Place the annatto seeds in a spice/coffee grinder and reduce to a fine powder. This should take two minutes as they are very hard. Put the powder into a very fine strainer. Strain over a bowl and discard the hard, unground seeds.
Roast the spices for a few seconds in a dry pan, until they become odorant. Grind the spices and add the roucou powder.
Strain the chilies and add them to the ground spices and the remaining ingredients.
Reduce to a smooth paste. This could take up to five minutes. Add some water if the paste is too thick and doesn’t blend well in the grinder.
Remove the adobo and put it in a container. This chilie paste keeps for a few days refrigerated and freezes well.
Place the chicken pieces with the adobo into a bowl. Mix well and let rest in the fridge for a few hours, or ideally, overnight.
Peel, then cut the carrots into 12 pieces.
Wash the potatoes.
Remove the spines from the Nopal then cut into ½-inch strips.
Place a piece of chicken into each aluminium foil square. Add 2 slices of carrots, two potatoes and a few strips of Nopal or green beans.
Spread the remaining marinade from the bottom of the bowl on to the vegetables and close the «papillotes» sealing them carefully.
Pour water into the pot. Place a colander or another accessory that facilitates steaming. Place the “papillotes” carefully, allowing the steam to circulate evenly.
Cover, and cook for 1 ½ hours on medium. Make sure that the pot doesn’t run dry during cooking.
Serve hot with white rice and black beans as a traditional accompaniment.