Chicken in a Tomatillo, Chipotle and Brown Sugar Sauce

Chicken in a Tomatillo, Chipotle and Brown Sugar Sauce

Pollo con Tomate Verde, Chipotle y Piloncillo
4 to 6 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: brown sugar, chicken, chicken broth, chipotles in adobo, garlic, onion, pati's mexican table, piloncillo, tomatillos
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Chicken in a Tomatillo, Chipotle and Brown Sugar Sauce recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 1, Episode 4 “Tomatillos”


  • 3 chicken leg quarters, or 3 drumsticks and 3 thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup safflower or corn oil
  • 2 cups white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, quartered
  • 4 tbsp piloncillo, shredded, or substitute for brown sugar
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus more sauce if desired
  • 2 cups chicken broth, or water

To Prepare

  • Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  • In a thick and tall heavy skillet or casserole dish, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces. Brown on one side, for about 4 to 5 minutes and then flip and brown on the other side, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t try to flip too soon or the skin will stick to the skillet. Remove the chicken pieces and place in a bowl. You may remove the skin if you wish, I don’t.
  • Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, for about 20 seconds. Make room in the pan and add the tomatillos. Let it cook all together, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the piloncillo, the chipotles and their sauce and stir well. Once it comes to a simmer incorporate the chicken pieces along with the chicken broth and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be chunky and thick, and the chicken fully cooked.

48 comments on “Chicken in a Tomatillo, Chipotle and Brown Sugar Sauce

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  1. Hi Pati, Thank you for your kind words. I don’t have a recipe for the wonderful stuffing my late husband made. I was always baking pies when he made it. I remember he browned onions in butter, and added torn up corn tortillas, chopped jalapeños, crushed Fritos, and beer. I make it and it’s good, but never as good as his. He would have loved your show, affectionately, Joanne Gonzalez

  2. You inspired me. Kinda made this recipe tonight since I didn’t have all the spices recommended. Made due with what I had. Two ingredients I had were tomatillos & boneless chicken thighs. Didn’t take as long to cook with boneless. Waited to long before realizing I had no sides for it. So, chopped up green cabbage & tossed on top & steamed it in the same pot & stirred it all together. Really Good!

  3. Hola Pati!

    Recently my wife and I bought your two books. I was coming into town and asked my wife to choose one recipe and we would do that dish for the weekend. She chose this one. It was so delicious. We had arroz rojo and frijoles fritos as our sides. My wife made your chocoflan for dessert. It was so deeelicious! Our goal is to try and make every dish in your two books. And waiting for number three. Saludos!

    1. Thanks Jesus! So glad to read you already enjoyed this recipe and the chocoflan and that you are planing to try every recipe, wow!!!! You better hurry because book number 3 is scheduled to be released this Fall 😉

  4. I came across your recipe several ago on an episode of “Pati’s Mexican Table” and it has become a fan favorite among my friends and family. One of my close friends joked about changing her sexual orientation and marrying me after eating the dish for the first time 🙂

  5. Hi Pati! I love your recipies so much! I have done this one before and it is easy and delicious… But im making ot again for my daughters and I do not have a clue for side dishes? Help

  6. Sounds good, I wonder if I’ll taste like our no name recipe.

    1 jar salsa
    Brown sugar
    Chicken tenders
    Casserole dish

    In a bowl dump whole jar of salsa
    Add brown sugar and mustard to your liking ( taste it and add more if need be)
    I love the hottest salsa the brown sugar helps with the strong bit, squeeze mustard 2 times around the bowl.

    Cut chicken into cubes
    Add to casserole dish pour salsa mixture over chicken bake 350 for 40-1 hour.

    Cook rice

    Bowl add rice, scoop chicken and pour sauce over it all. Enjoy YUM

    The smell is so wonderful why cooking.

  7. A friend of mine made this several years ago for a casual dinner we shared. We flipped over how simple and delicious it was. Since then, we have both made it over and over. I usually make it a day or so ahead, since the flavors are even more spectacular after it sits a bit. It gets raves from everyone every time!
    I made it again the other night and thought, I really ought to thank you for this wonderful addition to our table. I wasn’t sure where my friend got the recipe but she sent me the link to your site. I’m not a television watcher so I had not seen your show. So, thank you! And now, I’m going to explore more of your recipes.

    1. I took your advice and made it the day before. Letting it sit overnight really helped bring the flavors out. And thank you for this recipe Pati! I really enjoy the fusion of sweet, spicy, and tart. This is one to make again and again.

  8. My family adores this dish! Even my mashed potatoes and roast beef hubby says this is the best chicken recipe. I served it with the grilled corn and tomato salad. So delicious! Even the leftovers are fantastic! Thank you Pati!

  9. This is what’s for dinner at our home tonight. Thank you for sharing your recipes Pati , every recipe I make off your page is a success !

    Muchas gracias Pati Jinich por compartir tus recetas con nosotros, cada receta tuya que hago es un exito!
    Excelente provechito 😊

    Saludos desde Tijuana México

  10. This was amazing! I used the whole can of chipotle in adobo because I love the heat and the flavor and the balance between that and the sweetness of the brown sugar and tomatillo made for a super dish. Can’t wait until the next time we have this.

  11. I made this recipe last night and it was delicious. However, there was much more liquid in the end so we ate it as a soup rather than a stew. Should have I kept cooking it to evaporate the broth? I didn’t want to overlook the chicken though. I used coconut sugar rather than piloncillo.

  12. Hi Pati,
    I live in Australia and some times struggle to find the ingredients you use in your cooking can you help me out and tell me what I can use for a substitute we don’t have adobo sauce and tomatillo yeah we are missing out down here in Australia ?? love ❤️ your food I will also email