Spicy Baked Chicken with Toasty Arbol Chile Salsa and Peaches


I got Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless for my birthday and, that night, I flipped through most of the book, mentally dog-earing over half of it.  I’m a big Bayless fan – I find his recipes to be pretty easy and with a short list of (good) ingredients.  Not to mention, I had a really great experience at Topolobampo recently. I  really need to go back ASAP!

One thing Bayless does in this book that I enjoy is that he will give you a recipe for something, and then add a “riff” on that recipe at the end. It could be an ingredient swap-out, or a way to take something like a salsa and use it as a meal.  The riff on his Toasty Arbol Chile Salsa (baking it with chicken thighs) stood out to me immediately because, as you know, I am a big, big fan of the chicken thigh.  Plus, the salsa recipe sounded simple and spicy.  I love arbol chiles! I’m not really into fruit with meat (and peaches are actually one of my least favorite fruits) BUT they added some sweetness to the dish and were a good counterpart to the heat.

One taste of the salsa and I was in love. It was just so simple. Three ingredients and a quick whir in the food processor? Easy peasy. Ok, so there are actually four ingredients, apparently.  See, I *completely* missed the part about the garlic.  I didn’t realize it was in the recipe until I went to type this. D’oh! I really did love the salsa as is, but I’m sure it would be even better with the garlic because I kind of think that everything is better with garlic.

Rick Bayless says you should use skin-on chicken for the best flavor, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. I actually tested this theory by using 4 skin-on thighs and 4 skinned thighs (all bone-in). I actually prefered the ones without skin because, to me, if skin isn’t crispy there’s no point. Now, of course the fat from the skin renders and makes the sauce more delicious so that is one reason to use the skin. But I think using bone-in thighs really helps with that, too, and using half skin-on more than did the trick.

While I loved the salsa, I didn’t think it penetrated the chicken enough during baking. It was more like a chicken with a sauce than something that was cooked altogether. Next time, I’ll marinate the chicken in the salsa for a little bit before baking it. That said, the leftovers the next day were really, really good. No doubt the flavors had more time to mingle overnight.

Spicy Baked Chicken with Toasty Arbol Chile Salsa and Peaches

18 thoughts on “Spicy Baked Chicken with Toasty Arbol Chile Salsa and Peaches

  1. It’s such a relief to read a blog entry about chicken thighs! They’re so superior to the breast. And I completely agree with you about chicken skin too – it’s all about the crisp.

  2. Great mix of flavors and while the question of whether skin on enhances the flavors is up-in-the air, skin off reduces the calories so you made the same choice I would have (especially if it’s not crispy!)

  3. I really like Rick Bayless too. I’ve only been to Frontera but want to try Topolobampo soon. Did you see him on Top Chef Masters? This recipe looks fantastic! I love chicken thighs too, and like you, I’d prefer the skinless ones.

  4. The dish sounds delicious and regarding the skin although I never eat the skin even if it is crispy, however, I do believe that the skin adds a lot of flavour to any dish.

  5. What I like about Bayless is that he travels to Mexico to research his books and recipes which gives them a pretty authentic feeling. There’s a Mexican dish I make fairly often called entomatado. The sauce is very similar to this because it uses tomatillos, which I love. Hmm that sounds like a great dinner!

  6. Wow, that first pic of the plated chicken is absolutely mouthwatering! I love crispy skin and leave the skin on depending on just how fatty our meals have been that week!

    Really love all parts of this dish and am tempted to buy that book.

  7. I usually leave the skin on because I believe it improves flavor…but I may try taking it off now. I definitely prefer using bone-in chicken.

    I’m jealous you’ve eaten at Topolobompo… I’m a huge fan of his books and I’d love to try his restaurant!

  8. Delicious, really look delicious. I have that book and lucky enough had been to his restaurant as well. I’ll have to check out the recipe.

  9. rick is the man… I like what he is doing to promote mexican foods other than burritos and tacos… we got so much other stuff..

    I have seen variations like this one, but never with peaches, so I will give this a try tonite, in some parts of Mexico even when making a torta “sandwich”, fruits are added with the meats, plums especially.

    I will leave u another comment on this recipe.

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