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Summer 2009

Prairie Fair


Why Did the Chicken Cross the Border?


By Kris Hughes

To spice up our lives, no doubt!

I love Mexican food! This recipe is a wonderful departure from the norm and perfect to serve to guests who appreciate a little spice in their lives. This recipe has been a work in progress for me and I finally feel like I have found the perfect balance. Note that you need two cast iron pans to press the chicken in this recipe for that great crispy skin. If that is not available, you can use a couple of oven safe dishes and weight them down with whatever is available (but the skin will not crisp up.) If you do this omit the step where you start the chicken on the stove. Also be aware that this dish is spicy and you can mellow some of that out by seeding and deveining the jalapeno but nothing you do will completely take the heat out of the dish.

It’s a satisfying, filling way to enjoy chicken with lots of mexican flavor. Enjoy!


Tomatillo Chili Chicken

One whole fryer chicken
One pound tomatillos, husks removed
One onion quartered
One jalapeño, stem cut off
One clove garlic
One pablano pepper, stem and seeds removed
Four dried California chilies, stems and seeds removed
Two cast iron frying pans

Pull out the bottom rack and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take the chicken and split it lengthwise removing the back and breast bone. Pat it dry and liberally salt and pepper it.

Heat one of your cast iron pans, on stove top to medium high heat with a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil in it. Gently place the chicken halves skin side down once the pan has heated up ( you should hear it sizzle)

Open the oven and set the first cast iron pan containing the chicken on the rack and put the second pan on top of it ( if you try to stack them first and then put them in the oven they will be very heavy!) Roast for one hour or until chicken is cooked through.

In a 9x9 baking dish put in the tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapeño and pablano peppers and toss liberally with salt and oil and set in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until they are all tender. In a small pot boil the dried chilies for about ten minutes or until tender, drain.

When the tomatillos and peppers are finished roasting pull them out and put them into a food processor or blender and add salt to taste. (Note that tomatillos are a lot like potatoes. They need more salt than you think.)

When the chicken is finished pour the tomatillo mixture over the top and
serve with Spanish rice and warm tortillas.

This dish has endless possibilities, I have served it with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, all worked well depending on how hard I wanted to work. Feel free to use your imagination and alter this to your tastes.

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