Mixiote de Pollo is an insanely delicious dish. Believe it or not, Mixiotes have been popular in Mexico since prehistoric times. The meat marinates in a homemade, mildly spicy Enchilada sauce. It then goes into the steamer to create the perfect authentic Mexican dining experience.
What Are Mixiotes?
Mixiotes are a staple Mexican dish most popular in the Valley Of Mexico. Mixiote is the leaf that comes from the cuticle of the Maguey plant. The Mayans and the indigenous people of Mexico Valley used these leaves to steam food.
Although it’s typically barbecued over an open pit, you can still enjoy this classic Mexican delicacy by cooking it in the oven. I opted to steam this version of Mixiote de Pollo because it gently cooks the chicken, resulting in tender, juicy meat with the perfect amount of spice.
The flavor is added to the chicken with an Enchilada sauce consisting of ancho chili peppers, guajillo peppers, cumin, coriander, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, onions, and red bell peppers. The chicken and Maguey leaves are wrapped in parchment paper squares and then steamed until they are fully cooked.
Tips For Making Mixiote de Pollo
It is important to soak the Maguey leaves in water to soften them before you use them. Place the maguey leaves into a deep dish and cover them with warm water. Soak the leaves for 10 minutes until they are soft and pliable, then drain them and use them as directed.
Although you can get away with marinating the chicken for one hour, I recommend letting it marinate overnight. The chicken will absorb the marinade’s flavors, giving the Mixiote de Pollo an unbelievable depth.
I did not remove the skin from the chicken legs. The chicken skin adds an extra layer of flavor. However, you can remove the chicken skin if you wish.
Mixiote de Pollo Ingredients
The ingredient list for this Mixiote de Pollo is long, but these ingredients are what give this dish its signature flavor. So, don’t be intimated or leave any ingredients out. You will thank yourself later!
Ancho Chilis: Ancho chilis add a rich smoky flavor to the Mixiote de Pollo.
Guajillo Chilis: Guajillo chilis add lots of flavor to the dish. They give the chicken a mildly spicy, sweet, smoky flavor with a bit of tang to it.
Kosher Salt: Kosher salt adds a salty flavor to the Enchilada sauce, making it taste amazing.
Rosemary: Although a small amount of rosemary is used, it adds a robust citrus and mint flavor to the Mixiote de Pollo.
Thyme: Thyme adds an earthy, lemony flavor to the Enchilada sauce.
Cumin Seeds: Cumin seeds add a rich earthy flavor to the Enchilada sauce.
Coriander Seeds: Coriander seeds add a rich floral note with a slight curry flavor.
Mexican Oregano: Mexican oregano gives the Mixiote de Pollo a lemony, citrusy flavor similar to licorice.
Bay Leaf: Bay leaves add a sharp minty, peppery flavor.
Cloves: Cloves add a warm, intense flavor to the dish.
Allspice: Allspice adds a warm spicy flavor similar to nutmeg and cinnamon, which gives the dish an added depth of flavor.
Garlic: Garlic adds a subtle yet robust flavor that blends in with the spicy notes of the Enchilada sauce.
Red Onion: Red onions add a mildly sweet flavor which contrasts beautifully with the spicy chili peppers.
Red Bell Pepper: Red bell peppers add a sweet, subtle citrusy flavor to the Mixiote de Pollo.
White Wine Vinegar: White wine vinegar adds a touch of acidity, which helps balance out the spicy and sweet notes of the enchilada sauce.
Chicken: For this recipe, I used chicken thighs and chicken legs. You can, however, use just chicken legs or chicken thighs as well. You can even use chicken breast if you want, but you will have to adjust the cooking time in order to prevent them from drying out.
Maguey Leaves: You can use fresh or dried Maguey leaves. They add a burst of sweet caramel flavor which complements the spicy Enchilada sauce perfectly. If, however, you cannot find Maguey leaves, fresh or dried Avocado leaves are a good substitute.
How to make the perfect Mixiote de Pollo?
The perfect Mixiote de Pollo starts the day before. Toast your chillis until they are fragrant. Remove the veins and seeds, and soak them in water, each chili in its own bowl. Let them soak for 20 minutes and then take them out. Don’t pour away the soaking liquid.
Mix all your spices. In a blender, combine 1 teaspoon of the spice mix, the drained chillis, garlic, onions, red bell peppers, vinegar, salt, and the soaking liquid, and blend to combine. Work in batches for a smoother paste. Marinate your chicken in this mixture overnight.
When you’re ready to cook your Mixiote de Pollo, boil some water, and place a steamer wrack on top. Add one chicken thigh, one chicken leg, and one Maguey leaf in the middle of a parchment square and tie with kitchen twine. Steam for an hour.
Serve with white rice, tortillas, or beans.
What can I use instead of Maguey leaves?
You can use Avocado leaves if you can’t find Maguey leaves near you.
How can I store leftover Mixiotes?
Leftover Mixiotes, if there are any, can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Uncooked marinated chicken can stay in the fridge for 2 days but I would suggest using it as soon as you can.
Can I freeze Mixiote de Pollo?
Yes, you can. I would suggest freezing uncooked marinated chicken as that will not alter the taste or texture of the dish. You can leave the chicken to thaw in the fridge overnight and cook as normal the next day.
What can I serve with Mixiote de Pollo?
You can serve Mixiote de Pollo with white rice, tortillas, beans, nopales (cactus paddles) or even a fresh cucumber and onion salad. You can also serve this dish with different dips and sauces. I would recommend a refreshing summer drink to really amplify the Mexican flavor.
Can I use any other kind of meat to make Mixiote?
Traditionally, Mixiotes were made with rabbit meat or beef. You can use any meat you have on hand, just remember to alter the cooking times accordingly.
More delicious recipes
Mixiote de Pollo
- 8 Ancho dried chillis
- 8 Guajillo dried chillis
- 3 tbsp Kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp dried Rosemary
- 1/8 tsp dried Thyme
- 1/8 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/8 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 1 Bay leaf
- 8 whole Cloves
- 1 small red Onion, diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp White wine vinegar
- 3 Chicken legs
- 3 Chicken thighs
- 3 fresh or dried Maguey leaves (or dried Avocado leave as a substitute)
- 2 cups Water
- Banana leaves
- Place the Ancho chillis and Guajillo chillis into a dry skillet and set it over medium-high heat.
- Toast the chillis for 3-5 minutes, turning them frequently to prevent them from burning.
- Remove the chillis from the skillet and place them on a cutting board. Remove the seeds and veins from each chili.
- Place the Ancho chillis into one bowl, and the Guajillo in another bowl. Add enough hot water to cover the chillis and add a tablespoon of salt to each.
- Soak the chillis for 20 minutes and then remove them from the liquid. Keep the soaking liquid.
- Place the rosemary, thyme, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, bay leaf, cloves, and allspice in a spice grinder and blend until it is smooth.
- Working in batches, add the drained chilis, 1 teaspoon of the ground spice mix, 2 garlic cloves, half of the onions, half of the red bell peppers, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of the chili soaking liquid to the blender and blend until smooth. Place the chili mixture into a large bowl and set it aside.
- Repeat until all the chillis have been blended.
- Add the chicken legs and thighs to the chili mixture and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator overnight or at least for an hour.
- Place 2 cups of water into a pot and set it over medium-high heat. Add a steamer basket on top of the pot once the water has come to a boil.
- Cut three banana leaves into squares that are about 16 by 16 inches.
- Place 1 chicken drumstick, 1 chicken thigh, and 1 Maguey leaf in the center of each banana leaf sqaure.
- Bring the 4 edges of each square together and tie it with kitchen twine. Place the Mixiote de Pollo into the steamer basket, cover, and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook for an hour.
- Place the Mixiote de Pollo onto a serving dish, cut the kitchen twine, and open the parchment paper to reveal the chicken inside.
- Serve on banana leaves with rice and any garnish you have on hand.