Plaza de Morelia Style Chicken

Weekend evenings spent at a small town’s plaza are still possible in Mexico, in spite of urbanization and population growth. Even in Mexico City, neighbourhoods such as Coyoacan and San Angel feature old-fashioned markets with a cornucopia of colourful and enigmatic offerings, including of course, a truck-full of street foods.  In Morelia, the capital city of the state of Michoacan, one of the best known street foods is chicken with vegetables and red enchiladas.  Nowadays, many restaurants also serve this delicious combination, and I just tried making my own homemade version recently, a sure way to dress-up a pair of basic red enchiladas!  The only important element from the original dish that is missing in my photos, is shredded lettuce, which is traditionally placed as a bed on individual serving plates; trial and error has made me opt for a regular garden salad instead, served separately, to avoid getting the lettuce soggy under the hot food.

Plaza de Morelia Style Chicken –

Pollo estilo plaza de Morelia

Printable recipe: Plaza de Morelia Style Chicken

Ingredients (serves four)

4 portions chicken; cut into pieces, bone-in, skin-on
1 white onion; peeled, one quarter for the chicken, the rest chopped
1 clove garlic; peeled
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Water, as needed
3 potatoes; cooked, cubed (peeled, optional)
4 carrots; peeled, cooked, sliced thick or cubed
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or lard)
8 corn tortillas
1 cup fresh cheese (panela, feta, cotija); shredded or crumbled
Shredded lettuce (or side garden salad, optional)
Adobo sauce:
8 dry red peppers (ancho, guajillo)
1 clove garlic; peeled
½ cup water or chicken broth
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil (or lard)

The portions of chicken may be drumsticks, thighs, breasts or mixed; I used halved breasts only, since my family favours white meat.  I placed the chicken, 1 quarter of the onion, garlic, salt, and enough water to cover the chicken, in a large pot over high heat.  I brought it to a boil, then reduced heat to medium and cooked, with the pot partially covered with the lid, until chicken was tender, about 35 minutes.  I removed the chicken from the pot and set aside.  I discarded the onion and garlic clove, then strained and reserved the broth (some for the adobo and the rest to be used for soup or other dishes):

frying the adoboIn the meantime, I prepared the adobo sauce, as explained in detail in a previous post, by toasting the peppers (I used four guajillo and four ancho) and the second garlic clove in a dry skillet; setting the garlic clove aside, I blanched the peppers in boiling water for one minute and allowed to sit in the hot water for another 2-3 minutes. The drained and patted dry peppers should be flexible but not soggy; after I removed the stems and seeds, the peppers were placed in the blender jar with salt, and the reserved garlic and broth, processing until a soft paste was obtained. This adobo was further cooked by pouring in a pan with the vegetable oil and frying for a couple of minutes (photo, right).

I kept the sauce simmering in a back burner, while the chicken pieces were browned in an iron skillet over medium heat, starting with the skin side down, to render some of the fat, then turning to crisp the other side.  Once golden brown, I added my personal touch to the recipe by coating the chicken with adobo and finishing in the hot skillet by frying for a few more minutes:

In the meantime, in a separate frying pan, I added one tablespoon of oil, and fried the carrots and potatoes over medium heat until crisped and slightly browned:

frying carrots and potatoes

I transferred the veggies to a bowl with lid to keep them warm. I microwaved the tortillas to reheat as directed in the package (about one minute in high for eight).  I added the other tablespoon of oil to the frying pan, and fried the warm tortillas, two or three at a time, while coating with a generous amount of sauce, then rolling them before transferring to serving plates:

The enchiladas got sprinkled with cheese and chopped onions, and a portion of chicken and one of fried veggies were arranged beside them:

Chicken Plaza de Morelia
I thought my homemade version of this plaza style chicken still provided that nice feeling after enjoying a hearty Mexican meal, well balanced from placing protein and veggies on the plate, together with the basic red enchiladas.  After such a wonderful dinner, a pleasant walk with the dog was good enough to replace the stroll around the gazebo at the plaza, even though here, in Southern Ontario, it was definitely chillier than in Morelia.


Let’s party! I am joining Fiesta Friday #244 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday; her featured entries look particularly irresistible this week!  Co-hosting this week, Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com shares her family recipes (spicy pickles, for example) with detail and beautiful pics, and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes has great product reviews in addition to her recipes (Did you know there is an appliance called Multicooker? Wow!)


I am joining What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #169 graciously hosted by Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

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14 thoughts on “Plaza de Morelia Style Chicken

  1. I like this vegetable/chicken dish plated up with the enchiladas. This is my kind of Mexican meal – you make your own adobo sauce! I’ll have to add this to my “make soon” pile of recipes. Thanks for sharing a little bit of Mexican cuisine with Fiesta Friday.

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    1. Yeah, I know, some of those cooks are true masters! However, I do not have Mexican food trucks in my area :(, and when I cook at home, I like the control I have over the amount of oil added, and that I am able to cater to my family’s preferences.

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  2. Hello Irene,
    Chicken is a staple food in my family and this chicken recipe of yours is so interesting because of your Adobo sauce.I will try this. I am smiling while making this comment because my current post is our national food ADOBO which I made pork and chicken together. Too bad, I was not able to take a new photo…all gone too soon.. Have a great week ahead.

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    1. Hi, MarEliz, and thank you for your comment! I am going to go check your post right now; I love to see the different interpretations of a dish. Have a great week ahead as well!

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  3. That is a beautiful, succulent looking dish. Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party! Have a wonderful week and hope to see you at next week’s party too!

    Liked by 1 person

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