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The Gourmet Cookbook

Contributed by: Lee Faber of Copywrite Corporation

Containing more than 1000 recipes from six decades of Gourmet Magazine, this is a weighty book of 1040 pages. Unlike the original two-volume Gourmet Cookbook first published in 1950, the current book contains no photographs. This should not put anyone off since the original photos now look very dated. Instead, it is illustrated with simple little drawings that explain everything from cuts of meat to how to make fresh pasta. It also has a proper ingredients list which the original lacks.

The Gourmet Cookbook
The Gourmet Cookbook is a book for both novices in the kitchen and experienced cooks with both basic and wonderfully ambitious recipes that have been thoroughly tested and well-written. For such a large volume, it has been cleverly bound to stay open on any page. It also has a very well thought-out index. My only criticism is that the titles of the recipes are printed in yellow ink - not very easy to read. This is a book that will certainly live in my kitchen, to be used over and over again rather than sit forlorn on the bookshelf.

Chicken In Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pollo en Pipian Verde)

The Mexican states of Puebla and Veracruz are know for the nutty, herbaceous, almost creamy pumpkin seen sauce called pipian. Seasoned with spices and green chiles, it is intriguing in flavor, gentle in heat, and very easy to make. Hulled green pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are the whole point here, so select them with care. Serve the chicken and sauce with rice; it also makes a great taco filling.

  • For Chicken

    • 8 chicken quarters (4 pounds total), rinsed and patted dry
    • 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
    • 1/2 large white onion
    • 6 large fresh cilantro sprigs
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • 3 allspice berries

  • For Pumpkin Seed Sauce

    • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) green (hulled) pumpkin seeds
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 4 allspice berries
    • 3 while cloves
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • 1 pound fresh tomatillos or 1 (28 ounce) can tomatillos
    • 6 serrano chiles, stemmed
    • 1/2 large white onion, quartered
    • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/4 cup lard or vegetable oil
    • 1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled and seeded

  • Optional Garnish

    • chopped toasted green (hulled) pumpkin seeds and chopped fresh cilantro

  • Special Equipment

    • electric coffee/spice grinder

Combine chicken, garlic, onion, cilantro, salt, peppercorns and allspice with water to cover in a 6 quart heavy pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, until chicken is just tender, about 50 minutes. Transfer chicken to 13 x 9 inch baking pan. let stock cool.

Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a bow, pressing garlic pulp through sieve; discard solids. Measure 3 1/2 cups stock for sauce and reserve remainder for another use.

Heat a dry 10 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot, then toast pumpkin seeds, stirring constantly, until puffed and beginning to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Add sesame and cumin seeds, allspice, cloves and peppercorns to skillet and heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute; transfer to plate. When seeds and spices are cool, grind to a powder, in 4 batches, in coffee/spice grinder.

If using fresh tomatillos. remove husks and rinse with warm water to remove stickiness. Combine fresh tomatillos, serranos, and salted water to cover in a 5 quart heavy pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatillos and serranos to a blender. Or, if using canned tomatillos, drain them and transfer to blender, along with uncooked serranos. Add onion, garlic, 1/4 cup cilantro and salt to blender and puree until completely smooth (use caution).

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat lard (or oil) in a 5 quart heavy pot. Add tomatillo puree and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add 3 cups reserved stock and stir in ground pumpkin seed mixture. simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until some greenish oil is visible on surface, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree poblano with remaining 1/2 cup stock and 1/4 cup cilantro in blender until completely smooth.

Stir poblano puree into sauce and pour over chicken. Back just until chicken is heated through, about 20 minutes. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and cilantro, if desired.

Cook's Notes:

The chicken and stock can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then refrigerate separately, covered. The extra stock can be frozen for up to 1 month. The sauce can be made, without the poblano puree, up to 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then refrigerate, covered. Reheat over moderate heat before proceeding. You can use this as a taco filling by shredding the chicken (discarding bones and skin) and stirring it into the sauce with the poblano puree before baking. Serve with warm tortillas.

Pumpkin Seeds

Green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, or pietas, are an essential part of Chicken in Pumpkin Seed Sauce. They're terrific cocktail nibble as well: toast them in a hot cast-iron skillet until they puff up (stir constantly so they don't get too dark), then drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt. Because the seeds go rancid quickly, buy them at a place with a high turnover. We've had the best luck at natural foods stores. Store them in the freezer.

Makes 8 Servings

Active Time: 1 1/4 hours - Start to Finish: 1 1/2 hours

About the Author:
Lee Faber is a Review Editor of The Recipes Database. Become a member to recieve the weekly newsletter alert:
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