Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs

Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs
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About This Recipe

Nestled amidst the rolling vineyards and breathtaking landscapes, Napa Valley in California isn’t just a haven for wine enthusiasts; it’s also a culinary goldmine. Embracing this tradition, the Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs emerges as a dish that captures the essence of wine country, combining the sun-soaked flavors of Napa and Sonoma with a global culinary influence.

Born in the kitchen of a passionate home chef, this dish marries the smoky nuances of charred peppers with the delicate tenderness of chicken thighs. These flavors, which resonate deeply with the terroir of wine country, are reminiscent of late summer barbecues in Sonoma or those cozy autumn evenings in Napa, when the air is filled with the aroma of harvested grapes.

When crafting a menu to accompany this culinary masterpiece, one must consider the balance and harmony of flavors. As an opener, envision a light, crisp salad featuring organic greens sourced directly from local farms like Long Meadow Ranch. The freshness of the produce, accentuated by a citrus-infused vinaigrette, sets the stage for the richness of the chilmole. To follow, a classic Californian risotto infused with a touch of local white wine and garnished with herbs handpicked from Sonoma gardens would complement the chicken flawlessly.

However, the crown jewels of this culinary journey are the wine pairings. Napa and Sonoma, with their world-renowned vineyards, offer wines that don’t merely complement food; they elevate it.

The first suggestion, the ever-elegant Chardonnay, mirrors the Californian sun in its oaked, buttery tones. This white wine, with its rich profile, mirrors the smoky notes of the charred peppers effortlessly. A bottle from Cakebread Cellars in Napa or the exquisite range at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards in Sonoma promises an experience that transcends the ordinary.

Following closely is the Grenache, a wine that brings to mind a medley of spiced berries basking in the warmth of a setting Californian sun. Its medium body ensures that each sip harmonizes with the texture and flavors of the chicken. To savor the best, a trip to Sonoma’s A. Rafanelli is in order. Though not from Napa or Sonoma, Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles garners respect for their expertise with Rhône varieties, including Grenache.

The Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs is not just a dish; it's a gastronomic journey that captures the beauty, culture, and essence of Napa Valley and Northern California. It invites you to delve deep into the heart of wine country, offering a taste that lingers, much like the memories of a sun-drenched afternoon amidst the vineyards. For both residents and visitors, it's a connection to the land, an experience to savor, and a celebration of the rich culinary heritage that Napa so proudly boasts. Join us on this voyage of flavors, and let Napa's culinary traditions enchant you. Cheers!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers, a cornerstone of this delightful Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs recipe, are indigenous to Mexico. Mildly spicy and full of flavor, these peppers are commonly used in various dishes, from chiles rellenos to sauces and stews. The real magic begins when poblano peppers are charred, a technique that imparts a smoky, rich taste and brings out the natural sweetness of the pepper. Their vibrant green hue and dynamic flavor profile make them an ideal ingredient for our dish, complementing the tender chicken thighs perfectly. This Napa Valley-inspired creation celebrates the poblano's versatility, allowing it to shine amidst the symphony of flavors.

How to Perfectly Char Peppers

  1. Choosing Your Peppers: Begin with fresh, firm poblano and red bell peppers. The skin should be taut and shiny, free of blemishes or soft spots.
  2. Grilling Technique: Ensure your grill or stovetop grill pan is heated to medium-high. Place the peppers directly on the grill grates or pan. This direct contact with the heat source will allow the skins to blister and char evenly.
  3. Turning for Even Charring: Rotate the peppers every couple of minutes using tongs. This ensures all sides are charred uniformly.
  4. Steaming Process: Once charred, transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover it either with plastic wrap or a towel. Steaming makes the skin easier to peel off and enhances the pepper's sweet undertones.
  5. Peeling: After steaming for about 10 minutes, gently rub off the charred skin using your fingers or a paper towel. Avoid washing the peppers under water, as this can wash away some of the smoky flavors.


  1. Can I substitute chicken thighs with another cut? Absolutely. While chicken thighs are tender and flavorful, you can also use chicken breasts or drumsticks. Adjust cooking times accordingly, as breasts might dry out quicker.
  2. I'm sensitive to spicy foods. Can I omit the poblano peppers? The poblano peppers are mild and add depth to the dish. However, if you're concerned about the spice level, you can substitute them with green bell peppers, which are milder but still offer a delicious flavor.
  3. How do I store leftovers? Store any leftover Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  4. Can I use a different type of wine? The recipe recommends a dry white wine from Napa Valley for its specific flavor profile. However, any dry white wine will work. If you're avoiding alcohol, substitute with additional chicken broth or a splash of white grape juice for sweetness.
  5. Are there any gluten-free or vegan alternatives for this dish? For a gluten-free version, ensure your chicken broth and white wine are gluten-free brands. For a vegan twist, substitute chicken with firm tofu or tempeh and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Tips for Success

  1. Marinate for Enhanced Flavors: While the recipe doesn't call for a marinade, letting the chicken thighs sit in the seasonings for 30 minutes to an hour before cooking can amplify the flavors.
  2. Use Cast Iron for Best Results: Cooking in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven can provide an even heat distribution, ensuring perfectly cooked chicken and a sauce that's rich and flavorful.
  3. Fresh is Best: Whenever possible, source your ingredients, especially the peppers and herbs, from local farmers' markets or trusted vendors. Fresh ingredients can elevate the overall taste and aroma of the dish.

Recipe Overview

Charred Pepper Chilmole with Tender Chicken Thighs
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (preferably from Napa Valley)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat a grill or stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the poblano and red bell peppers until their skins are charred and blistered, turning occasionally. This will take approximately 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and allow them to steam for 10 minutes.
  2. While peppers are steaming, season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika.
  3. Heat olive oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, ensuring they are in a single layer, and brown them on both sides. Remove and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, add the chopped red onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  5. By now, the peppers should be steamed. Peel off their skins, remove seeds, and finely chop. Add these to the skillet along with the minced tomatoes, ground cloves, oregano, and the white wine. Let the wine reduce for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet, add chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and let it cook for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  7. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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