Chicken in Red Sesame Seed Sauce: Pipian Rojo del Norte
- 6 ancho chiles
- 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 5 black peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 (1/2-inch) stick Mexican cinnamon (canela)
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large fresh or dried avocado leaf, toasted and finely ground (optional)
- 2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- Mixed cilantro and mint leaves, for garnish
- Serving Suggestion: Warm corn tortillas
Stem and seed the chiles, reserving 1 tablespoon of the seeds, or more to taste.
Toast the chiles in a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover with hot tap water, and soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
In a blender, combine the chiles, ground spices, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and garlic and blend.
Heat the lard in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour in the blended sauce and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom, until somewhat reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. (The sauce may be prepared up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)
Preheat a grill or grill pan. Lightly brush the chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, turning to make cross-hatched marks, until just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
Slice the chicken and transfer to a platter.
Reheat the sauce and stir in the avocado leaf. Ladle the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and garnish with herb leaves. Serve with corn tortillas.