Recipe Detail

Guatemalan Chicken Pepian

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  • Brief Description

    Marinated chicken with cooking sauce and pepian spice mix recipe by Executive Chef Ric Allen-Watson: The Ottawa Mission.

  • Main Ingredient


  • Category:  Poultry

  • Cuisine:  Guatemalan

  • Prep Time:  60 min(s)

  • Cook Time:  60 min(s)

  • Recipe Type:  Public

  • Source:

    Chef Ric Allen-Watson - Ottawa Mission

  • Tags:

  • Notes:

    TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: In 2019 The Ottawa Circle of Friends struck a wonderful partnership with a local shelter. The Ottawa Mission have a kitchen which feeds homeless people in Ottawa and from which they also do catering. They submitted a bid to prepare 200 dinners for the Gala fundraising we hosted on April 13, 2019 and delivered amazing results. It was such a great partnership because not only did they cater a beautiful meal – they took the leftovers away with them! It was a win/win partnership.

  • Posted By:  PlantingSeeds

  • Posted On:  Oct 06, 2021

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Number of Servings:


  1. 3 1/2 pounds - chicken, cut into 8 pieces OR equivalent amount of chicken thighs with bone and skin
  2. 6 cloves - garlic finely chopped
  3. 1/2 - orange juiced
  4. 1 - lime juiced
  5. 1 teaspoons - salt
  6. 1 teaspoons - ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoons - chili powder
  8. 1/4 teaspoons - cayenne pepper
  9. 3 - medium plum tomatoes (about 9 oz.) cored and chopped
  10. 3 - tomatillos (about 4 oz.) husked and quartered
  11. 1 - small white onion (about 5 oz.) peeled and cut in half
  12. 2 tablespoons - olive oil
  13. 2 1/2 cups - chicken broth
  14. 1/4 cups - pepian spice blend (recipe below)
  15. 1 teaspoons - salt
  16. 2 tablespoons - corn masa mix (or substitute flour)
  17. 16 - or 17 dried guajillo chiles (about 8 oz.) OR 1/2 cup of chile powder
  18. 7 - dried pasilla chiles (about 1.5 oz.)
  19. 1/3 cups - sesame seeds
  20. 1/3 cups - hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  21. 1/3 cups - whole almonds
  22. 1 tablespoons - allspice berries
  23. 1 tablespoons - whole black peppercorns
  24. 1 sticks - 3-inch cinnamon
  25. 2 teaspoons - whole cloves
  26. 4 ounces - cacao nibs (about 3/4 cup) OR 1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
  27. 1 tablespoons - salt


Pepian Spice Mix:
Stem and seed the chiles. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the chiles a few at a time until they begin to soften. When you are done with the chiles put them all together and let cool. (ALTERNATIVELY use ½ cup of chile powder and proceed with the recipe.)

Next add the sesame seeds for a quick jump in the pan, remove quickly when they turn golden. Place into a bowl. Next toast the pumpkin seeds and the almonds, stirring, until they take on some color, remove and add to the bowl with sesame seeds.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the allspice, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick and whole cloves. Roast the spices until they become aromatic, remove and add to the bowl with the seeds and nuts. If you’re adding cacao nibs, add them to the pan and toast, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add to bowl with nuts and seeds. Let everything cool.

Chop or tear the toasted peppers into smaller pieces with your hands and place in a food processor, and process to a coarse powder, transfer to a bowl. Place the rest of the ingredients, all the toasted nuts and seeds, into the processor and reduce again to a coarse powder and add to the bowl with the ground peppers. Mix in the salt.

Finally, working in batches, regrind everything in a coffee grinder or a spice grinder until it is as fine a powder as you can obtain. Pass through a strainer to remove any tough pieces left behind. Store tightly covered for 2 to 3 months.

Note: If you’re not able to find whole dried chiles, or it just sounds like too much work, I suggest a quick and dirty substitute of ½ cup of chile powder in place of the whole chiles.
Also, if you’re not able to obtain cacao nibs, I would suggest substituting 1 oz. of unsweetened baking chocolate stirred into the sauce just before the chicken is done.

Guatemalan Red Chicken Pepian:

Place the tomatoes, tomatillos and onion in a blender or food processor and puree. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chicken pieces. Brown on both sides and continue to cook until the chicken is half done, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the tomato puree to the oil in the same pan and simmer, stirring for 10 minutes, to reduce by about one-third. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock to the pan, along with the pepian seasoning and salt. Bring to a simmer and add the masa, mixed with ½ cup of the remaining chicken stock. (If you don’t have masa you can substitute flour. Add the flour or masa to cold stock and shake vigorously and you shouldn’t have any lumps.) Bring back to a simmer, stirring, to avoid lumps. Add the chicken back into the pan.

Continue to simmer until chicken is done. Serve with rice.


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