As holidays of dubious historical significance that serve as little more than an excuse for copious daytime imbibing, Cinco de Mayo is my second least favorite. I prefer daytime drinking that is forthright and without (much) pretense. (One must have a little pretense, or else they take you to Promises). Appropriate situations include: baseball games, company picnics, a really rainy Saturday, having to go to the mall against your will and finding an adjacent Ruby Tuesday with a chatty bartender named Steve or Alyssa, being at the airport, being on vacation, and a one-year-old’s birthday party. Both the Fifth of May and the Seventeenth of March are strictly for amateurs. You can keep your well tequila and green tinted lager. Give me an honest fishbowl of Mai Tai and a complimentary plate of miso honey chicken wings on the Thirtieth of June. Many bottles of beer is also a good way to go on such happy occasions.
So, anyway, I was at Hacienda Pancho Villa two Saturdays ago for Cinco de Mayo. I was there with my family, soaking up the authentic Mexican ambience. I placed a risky order, as I sometimes do, just for kicks. And this one happened to pay off. In cream sauce. Their chicken in chipotle cream sauce was pretty in pink with an abundance of meaty mushrooms. It was surprisingly spicy and rich and none of us could stop eating it. I knew this was a dish I should recreate at home. I still think chipotle is smoky sweet and fabulous, though it has become somewhat ubiquitous. (Isn’t McDonald’s offering it as a dipper with their nugget reboot? You go, girl). Here we have a kind of a Tex-Mex stroganoff. Does that make you like it better or worse? It’s terrific, honestly. It’s comfort food. You can serve it over rice, or as tacos, tucked into flour tortillas. Buen Provecho.
Chicken in Chipotle Cream Sauce
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 a 7 oz can chipotle in adobo (whole peppers and sauce)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced
- 8 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Flour tortillas
Whiz chipotles and adobo sauce with garlic and milk in a food processor. Cook seasoned chicken breasts over medium heat in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; remove to a plate and shred into big pieces. Add the other teaspoon of oil to the pan and saute onions and mushrooms, approximately 10 minutes. Return roughly shredded chicken to the pan and turn down the heat. Add the flour and stir for one-two minutes, then pour in the chipotle mixture. Increase the heat and bring to a boil; let the mixture simmer and reduce. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve with a side of refried beans.