I have read that Pepian is Guatemala’s national dish and after feasting on a few bowls of it I can see why. Tomatoes, chiles and a bunch of other ingredients are charred (ideally over a wood fire) before being cooked off with chicken, pork or beef (or all three). It’s smokey, a touch spicey and delicious. We spent two weeks recently staying in a family homestay in Guatemala and this recipe comes from the amazing family cook Sandra Elizabeth, or more correctly from her mum. Here is Sandra’s recipe for how to make Pepian!
How to make Pepian: Ingredients (serves 4)
1 kg chicken (I prefer either leg or thigh with bone in but you can use whatever you like)
1 cup chicken stock
Whole bunch of coriander (including cleaned roots)
2 chile guaque, seeds and stems removed**
2 chile pasa, seeds and stems removed**
100g pumpkin seeds
Pinch of sesame seeds
1 cinnamon quill
1kg fresh roma tomatoes
100g mil tomatillos
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into a large cubes
1 medium onion, cut in quarters
2 cloves garlic
1 cup breadcrumbs (a few slices of day old bread will do)
Salt and pepper to taste
How to make Pepian: Method
- Grill the tomatoes, tomatillos and onions over an open flame until charred on the outside (ideally over a BBQ but you can also use the hob on your stove)
- Dry fry chiles, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cinnamon until just smoking. Always keep the spices moving in the pan so as not to burn them.
- Bring 2L of water to boil in a large pot, reduce to a simmer and then poach the chicken with the coriander and the potatoes for 30-40mins until the chicken is just cooked. If the potatoes need a little longer leave them until cooked. Remove both the chicken and potatoes and set aside.
- Take half the poaching liquor from the chicken plus the chicken stock and then blend with the charred tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles and spices in a food processor. When combined to a smooth sauce add to a pot over medium heat.
- Blend the breadcrumbs with a cup of the chicken poaching liquor and add to the sauce
- Add the poached chicken and the potatoes to the sauce and then cook everything together over a medium heat for 20-30 mins until the sauce is reduced by a quarter.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Serve with steamed rice and tortillas
*DISCLAIMER: We’re still on the road so recipe is yet to be tested. We’ll get to it as soon as we can. Any feedback welcome.
**NOTE: Chile Guaque and Chile Pasa are different varieties of Guatemalan chile which are found in most markets in dried form. Guaques are black and Pasas are a very deep red colour. If you want a spicier Pepian you can leave the seeds in, otherwise remove them.