Jocón or pollo en jocón is a dish popular with the Mayan population of Guatemala. Chicken is simmered in a tasty sauce tinted a beautiful green by tomatillos and cilantro and thickened with ground sesame and pumpkin seeds and corn tortillas.
2½ to 3 pounds chicken, cut into serving pieces
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 corn tortillas, chopped, soaked in water, drained
1 cup tomatillos, hulled and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 to 5 jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, chopped*
Place the chicken, water and salt into a large pot over medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the chicken to a bowl and strain and set aside the broth. Let chicken cool, then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Set aside.
Heat a dry skillet over medium flame. Add the pumpkin and sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, tortillas, tomatillos, cilantro, scallions and chile peppers to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth and process until smooth. If using a blender you may have to do this step in batches.
Return the chicken to the pot. Pour over puréed sauce and add 1 to 1½ cups of the remaining broth to give it a sauce-like consistency.Heat over medium-low heat and simmer for an additional 15-25 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Serves 4 to 6
* Serrano peppers are hotter (spicier) than jalepeños. Season according to your family’s taste preference.
Leave the chicken pieces whole if you prefer.
If you can’t find pumpkin seeds, simply use 1/2 cup of sesame seeds. And if finding sesame seeds is a problem, you can substitute a slightly smaller amount of tahini.
Cubed pork can be substituted for the chicken. There is no need to shred the pork, but you may need to simmer it longer for it to become tender.
Use any remaining broth to make rice to accompany the meal.