Recipe Sleuth: Rosa Mexicano’s Budín de Pollo

Rosa Mexicano’s budín de pollo. Photo courtesy of Rosa Mexicano.

Josefina Howard opened her first Mexican restaurant 25 years ago in Manhattan; today, Rosa Mexicano has expanded to nine locations across the country, including DC’s Penn Quarter and National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

At one reader’s request, we tracked down the recipe for Rosa Mexicano’s budín de pollo, a traditional dish also known as budín azteca. Stuffed between a stack of soft corn tortillas is a mix of pulled chicken, Chihuahua cheese, and roasted peppers. It’s topped off with a healthy spoonful of poblano-cream sauce.

“The dish is creamy, with just the right amount of heat, and will definitely fill you up,” says the chain’s culinary director David Suarez.

Suarez cautions that the poblano-cream sauce is the most difficult aspect of the dish’s preparation: “The balance of chilies and herbs is the most important element to the sauce.”

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Budín de Pollo

Serves 2

Make the salsa:

4 pounds tomatoes
½ cup chopped white onions
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ teaspoon cumin
8 cloves
12 whole allspice berries
½ teaspoon white peppercorns
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons chipotle purée (purée canned chipotles-in-adobo in a blender)
2 Mexican cinnamon sticks, about 2 inches long
Salt to taste

Roast the tomatoes in a 350 degree oven until they’re soft and slightly browned on the skin. Peel and coarsely chop them.

In a pot over medium heat, sauté the onions with a little oil until they become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of tomatoes and add the rest to the pot. Combine the reserved cup of tomatoes with the cumin, clove, allspice, and peppercorns, and process in a blender until smooth. Add the purée to the pot. Add the bay leaves, oregano, sugar, chipotle purée, cinnamon, and season to taste with salt. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced. Refrigerate until needed.

Make the poblano-cream sauce:

2 pounds whole poblano chilies
¼ bunch cilantro (about 1 ounce leaves)
¼ bunch parsley (about 1 ounce leaves)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) mint leaves
Scant ½ cup (3 ounces) chopped white onion
¼ pound spinach, blanched and squeezed to drain liquid
1½ quarts heavy whipping cream

Roast the poblano chilies in a 350-degree oven until their skins blister, then peel and seed. In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until the mixture becomes a textured purée (you can also use a hand blender). In a pot over medium heat, bring the sauce to a boil for about 10 minutes. It should be slightly thickened and bright green. Blend again until smooth and salt to taste. When blending hot liquid, be sure to remove the blender cap; cover the blender with a dishtowel to prevent splattering. Refrigerate until needed.

Assemble the budín de pollo:

3 6-inch corn tortillas
6 teaspoons salsa
4 ounces shredded chicken
4½ ounces Chihuhua cheese
1½ ounces poblano strips (stemmed, seeded, cut into ¼-inch strips)
2 tablespoons grilled corn kernels
½ cup poblano-cream sauce
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Parsley sprigs for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Soften the tortillas by frying them in 350 degree oil for about 10 seconds (they shouldn’t get crispy).

On a lined baking sheet, lay one tortilla flat. Spread 3 teaspoons of salsa over the tortilla. Spread half of the shredded chicken evenly and then 1½ ounces of Chihuahua cheese evenly. Add half of the poblano strips and half of the corn kernels evenly over the cheese. Top with a second tortilla and repeat steps one through four. Top with the last tortilla and spread the remaining cheese over the top tortilla evenly. Place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted and the budín de pollo is heated through. Serve atop the poblano-cream sauce, garnished with a sprig of parsley.

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