Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken — Oh, What Sauce!

IMG_1270 (1024x971) I have rules when I try a recipe for the first time:  One, I follow the recipe as closely as possible.  Two, I accept all comments, suggestions, criticisms from family and dinner guests without getting defensive.  Three, if I don’t hear a complaint or suggestion, it gets made again.  This recipe was near perfect for friends and family.  One comment was ‘oh, what sauce!’.    Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken from Yotam Ottolenghi’s website is one of those winner recipes which I revised ever so slightly and will give some additional suggestions at the end of this post.

Smoky dried chipotle chili peppers are soaked in hot water for at least half an hour to make them pliable enough to de-stem and de-seed.

IMG_2484 (1024x682) The rest of the sauce ingredients are roasted red peppers, ground cinnamon, white wine vinegar,  brown sugar, salt, plus the soaked chipotle chili peppers.

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The ingredients are pureed together in a food processor with the addition of some oil olive and water.  A beautifully thick, deep orange sauce.

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Although regular dark chocolate can be used, I was able to find Mexican Chocolate tablets in a Mexican grocery store.  These chocolate tablets are dairy-free and are flavoured with added cinnamon; however you will be adding powdered cinnamon to the sauce so Mexican chocolate isn’t absolutely necessary. IMG_2487 (880x1024)  One quarter of this chocolate tablet makes 4 tablespoons.  IMG_2485 (1024x714)The red onions, sweet and white potatoes are peeled, cut and roasted along with the chicken, sauce and grated chocolate.

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Now that all the ingredients are prepared, it’s time to build the dish.  The potatoes and onions are placed in the roasting pan and mixed with a drizzle of olive oil.  The chicken pieces are placed on top in a single layer, sprinkle on the grated chocolate and top with the prepared sauce.  Then mix everything together and let marinade a few hours if you have time; however, it can be cooked right away too.

Roast for about 50 minutes until all the chicken and vegetables are cooked through.  Really, it does not taste chocolate-y; the chocolate rounds out the flavour but you will taste the chilies!

A few suggestions:

  •  Double the sauce and chocolate to create a gravy to serve alongside the chicken.
  •  I have made this recipe with boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs; same cooking times.
  •  The chipotle chilies are hot stuff!  Use less if you want a milder version.  I have also discovered the brown dried chipotle pepper is a little milder; but they seem to be more difficult to find.

IMG_1296I have made this recipe on many occasions and it is always a hit.  Serve with a green salad for a complete, balanced meal.


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Sweet and Smoky Mexican Chicken


2 medium roasted red peppers from a jar, rinsed
3 small cinnamon sticks, freshly ground (or 1½ tbsp ground cinnamon)
4 chipotle chili peppers, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained, seeds and stalks removed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2½ tbsp white-wine vinegar
2½ tsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Rest of ingredients:
1 cut-up chicken, skin removed (i saved the wings to make chicken soup later) (or boneless, skinless chicken pieces)
4 tbsp finely grated dark chocolate
12 small white potatoes, halved or 3 medium potatoes, cut into wedges
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
2 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Put the roast peppers, cinnamon, chilies, garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, three tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoons of salt and three tablespoons of water. Puree for a minute, until very smooth.
  3. Put all potatoes and onions in a baking dish, a drizzle of  olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well.
  4. Add the chicken, followed by the grated chocolate and pour on the sauce.  Combine everything well.  Bake for about 50 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked and nicely coloured.  Turn once during roasting time.   Serve at once, with coriander sprinkled on top. 


  1. janie randolph · · Reply

    This looks fabulous!!

  2. France's harris · · Reply

    Anything with chocolate has to be a winner

    1. Even a main course! The chocolate flavour is in the background but rounds out the sauce.

  3. Woooo hooo! I was treated to the Spice Wife’s Sweet and Spicy Mexican Chicken this past weekend and my taste buds have been asking for the recipe ever since!!

    1. My secret is out!!

  4. looks very good….how hot is this. Can Stan eat it ?

    1. I would suggest using half the peppers, Cathy. The flavour is robust without the full amount of chilies!

  5. Hi! What temperature do you recommend baking this at?

    1. Hi Jenn, 400 degrees F! I will update that in the post. Delicious, enjoy this recipe.

  6. I have ground smoked chipolte peppers ….how much to use?

    1. Hi Mary — did a little research for you. The equivalent is 1/2 teaspoon of smoked ground chipotle powder to one whole pepper…So there are 4 peppers in this recipe — use 2 teaspoons. Good luck and enjoy!

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