Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger use one of their favorite chiles–the aromatic, coffee-scented ancho–in a marinade that is basically an ancho chile sauce. Use it in any recipe that calls for a red sauce.
- For the Marinade:
- 7 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 cups water, plus 1 or 2 tablespoons if needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the Paste:
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 chicken breast halves, bone-in, skin removed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Do Ahead: The marinade and the paste can be made 2 to 3 days ahead and kept, tightly covered, in the Refrigerator.
- For the Marinade: In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, toast the chiles until soft and brown, turning frequently to avoid scorching, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the toasted chiles to a saucepan and add the vinegar and 1 cup of the water. Bring to a boil, reduce tile heat and simmer 10 minutes to soften the chiles.
- Transfer the chiles and liquid to a blender and purée until a smooth paste is formed, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, if necessary. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; add the onions and sauté until deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper; cook another minute. Add the reserved chile paste and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the remaining cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove half of the sauce from the pan and put into a bowl to cool (this will be the marinade).
- For the Paste: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, orange and lemon juices, and tomato paste. Add to the remaining sauce in the pan and cook the mixture for another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste. Coat the breasts generously with the cooled ancho marinade and put in a glass dish or heavy plastic bag; refrigerate and allow to marinate 2 to 4 hours or overnight. Remove the breasts from the refrigerator.
- Preheat a broiler.
- Place the breasts directly on a baking sheet under the broiler; sear about 1 minute on each side. Brush with the ancho paste.
- Preheat an oven to 350° Bake until the juices run clear, another 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently and brushing with additional ancho paste. Remove from the oven. Place a chicken breast on each of 6 plates.