Pan-Seared Chicken in Green Chile with Lentils


Pan-Seared Chicken in Green Chile with Lentils


In New Mexico, prepared green chile pepper mixture (fire-roasted Hatch chilies) is sold frozen in grocery stores. Here, we generally have to substitute, and do our own prep. Poblano peppers and tomatillos, as well as Jalapeño peppers, are always available where Mexican produce is sold, and often in supermarkets as well. The spices are available at both places.


Here’s an elegant and hearty main-course dish that includes lentils as well as chicken for the protein. The cooking involves several parts that all come together at the end.


The recipe serves six to eight generously. But leftovers are great to have for another day. Serve the chile in wide, shallow soup bowls. Accompany with warm corn tortillas or with rice, and offer sour cream and hot sauce on the side.


1 cup tan or green lentils


For the chicken:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons olive oil


The pepper mixture:

2 large Poblanos

4 Jalapeños

1 large green bell pepper

4 medium tomatillos

1 large onion

6 cloves garlic


Finishing the chile:

2 1/2 cups chicken broth and/or water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra sour cream for serving


Soak the lentils in a bowl with boiling water to cover them by 3 inches. Set aside while working on other parts of the dish. Drain them before cooking.


Trim chicken breast pieces of any tough parts and excess fat. Rub the chicken with a mixture of the salt and spices. Finally rub with the olive oil. Set aside to season while roasting the peppers.


Set the oven for 375 degrees. Rinse off the three types of peppers and place them whole on a baking sheet. Discard husks from the tomatillos and add tomatillos to the baking sheet. Peel and quarter the onion and add it to the baking sheet. Peel the garlic cloves and add them whole. Roast in the oven 10 minutes. Turn the vegetables and roast another 10 minutes.  If the skins on the peppers are not blistering and browning, roast them another 5 to 10 minutes. Let them cool somewhat.


Peel charred skin from peppers (some can be left attached). Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Put all the roasted vegetables in food processor and chop them very well, but not to a puree. Set aside.


Heat a heavy cooking pot to medium high. Fry the seasoned and oiled chicken, turning the pieces every 3 minutes, for a total of 6 minutes on each side. Keep the pot for further use. Remove the chicken to cool on a board or plate. Slice it  into 1/4-inch pieces, then cut them crosswise into halves. Set aside.


In the pot used to fry the chicken, place the finely chopped pepper mixture plus the chicken broth and/or water and bring to a boil. Drain the lentils and add them. Simmer, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot, until lentils are becoming tender, 10-15 minutes depending on the lentils. Then add the salt, black pepper, cumin and allspice.


Continue simmering until lentils are tender, but still intact. Add the pre-cooked, cut chicken. Simmer till fully heated. Add a little water if the mixture is very thick. Stir in the sour cream and bring back just to a boil. Taste and add salt, if needed. Remove from the heat.


The chile can be served now, or cooled and reheated later. Serve accompanied by a rice dish or warm corn tortillas. Have a side bowl of sour cream that diners can add to their chile if desired, plus a bottle of hot sauce that can be added.

Follow Us @donderoskitchen