Mexican Braised Chicken and Plums

Braised in a simple cumin-chipotle-triple sec-broth mixture, Mexican Braised Chicken and Plums turns preconceived notions of Mexican food upside down in a healthy, exciting new way! Served with rice, or quinoa, it’s a satisfying gluten free dish in about an hour.

A red bowl and a gold bowl of Mexican braised chicken and plums with farro, grey napkin and black flatware.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

After noticing the sudden availability of prune plums at my local HEB market, I became curious. I have always loved plums, but was only familiar with dried prunes, rather than fresh prune plums.

As I mentioned in a recent recipe post for spiced plum syrup, these smallish plums are well-suited to cooking, and their color intensifies as they cook. They’re a perfect plum variety for this Mexican-inspired chicken and plums dish. I especially love them because they are a “freestone” variety. Keep in mind, other plums are fine as well, but you may be picking out the pits before service!

I am always a fan of fruit-meat dishes like my Instant Pot pork and apples and healthy Caribbean-style fish. I guess I was going “with my gut” on combining chicken and plums, as I don’t think I’ve had a dish that used them together. I think Asian cooks combine them in dishes like Chinese Plum Chicken Stir Fry.

Alas, my blog is mostly focused on Latin dishes. I did not come across a single recipe that included chicken and plums with a Latin twist. So, here you go… I’ve kept it simple, braising the chicken and plums in triple sec and chicken broth after browning it with cumin, garlic, and chipotles in adobo. Having eaten it several times now, my husband would say “it’s AMAZING!”

🥘 What is Braising?

It’s a well-kept kitchen secret: Braising makes heroes out of weekend cooks. There is no other technique that asks so little yet gives so much back. 

~~ bon appétit

Braising is a classic cooking technique that delivers fantastic results with minimal effort. After your meat is seared/browned, the pan is de-glazed (be sure to scrape all those glorious browned bits from the bottom of the pan), and the braising liquid is added.

While oven braising is the most efficient – the pan is surrounded by heat – the stove top is fine as well. Keep the heat fairly low (300° to 350°), and the pan should be covered by a tight-fitting lid. If the liquid runs low, simply add a bit more.

What kinds of meats are good candidates for braising?

It’s ideal for cooking inexpensive and/or tough cuts of meat like brisket and shoulder, but the moisture makes it good for quick-cooking cuts that can be dry like chicken breast.

The meat should NOT be submerged! The braising liquid should not cover the ingredients. You are braising, not boiling. I usually shoot for about an inch of liquid in the pan.

What is the best braising liquid?

The braising liquid can be as simple as broth/stock, but can be so much more! Wine is an obvious choice (think boeuf bourgignon) and beer is great too. My choice for the chicken and plums is triple sec (orange liqueur). Tomato sauce, fruit juice, even milk (yes milk!) can be used to braise. Think “outside the box.”

You need more than just meat and liquid for braising. Vegetables and aromatics (onions, garlic, herbs) are important. A classic braise includes a mirepoix, but don’t stop there… Try fennel, potatoes, greens, or plums. LOL.

I mustn’t neglect to mention that vegetarian dishes are good candidates for braising as well. In fact Food 52 describes a Mediterranean chick peas dish with chick peas braised in olive oil. Now that’s decadent!

4 Simple Rules for Braising Anything from bon appétit is an excellent resource for braising without a recipe. Check it out!

📋 Ingredients Notes

A cutting board with ingredients for the chicken and plums - chicken, plums, onion, garlic, cumin, chipotle, triple sec, broth.
  • chicken – I prefer bone-in thighs in this braise, but use your favorite cut.
  • onion
  • ground cumin
  • garlic
  • plums – As I mention above, Italian prune plums are perfect in this dish as they’re firm, provide beautiful color, and they’re freestone! See this article on plum varieties for more information.
  • chipotles in adobo
  • triple sec or sherry
  • chicken broth
  • sea salt/pepper
  • cilantro or parsley (garnish)

🔪 Instructions

Step 1 - Brown the chicken.
  • Brown the chicken – Add a drizzle of olive oil to a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides in batches (don’t crowd the pan). Set aside.
Step 2 - The chicken has been removed, and the onions, garlic, and cumin sauté next.
  • Brown the aromatics and cumin – Add the onion to the pan, and sauté until they begin to show some color (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and cumin, and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes. Be careful to not burn the garlic!
Step 3 - The pan is de-glazed with triple sec.
  • Add the liquids – De-glaze with the triple sec or sherry, scraping with a stiff spatula (I like wood) to loosen all the browned bits. When the browned bits are combined with the triple sec, stir in the chicken broth, chipotle(s), and salt and pepper. Note: Mash the chipotle up with the edge of your spatula, and stir it in well to avoid a hot bite!
Step 4 - Add the remaining ingredients - chicken, plums, chipotles, and broth - are added.
  • Braise the chicken and plums – Add the chicken back into the pan, pushing it into the liquid. Follow with the plums. You want about an inch of liquid. Add a bit more if necessary. Bring up to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a tightly-fitting lid. Simmer covered about an hour, checking occasionally the level of the liquid. If your lid fits tightly and the contents are simmering (not boiling), you shouldn’t need to add more liquid.
Step 5 - The completed Mexican braised chicken and plums in a brown cast iron Dutch oven.
  • Serve – Taste the chicken and plums for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Serve in a shallow bowl alongside your chosen sides, and garnish with cilantro or parsley. Enjoy!

💭 Tips

If you can find fresh prune plums, they’re super quick and easy to work with! They’re freestone and quite firm.

This chicken and plum braise is great leftover. It will keep in the refrigerator 2-3 days for reheating. Freeze in zip bags for up to 2 months. With a new pot of grain or rice, it’s like having a new meal.

❓ FAQ

How many chipotles should I use?

The amount is totally subjective. If you’re not familiar with chipotles, they’re fairly spicy. I would start with 1. If you know you like the heat, use 2 or 3. After several trial runs on this recipe, we decided 3 was about right for our palates, but we like it spicy!

Is this chicken and plums recipe good leftover?

YES! In fact, I have half of the last batch frozen for another meal. It’s excellent. It will be fine in the refrigerator for a few days.

What kind of plums should I use?

As I mentioned in my “Talks” section, I really like Italian prune plums because they’re freestone, and hold up well in savory, slow-cooked dishes like this one. Many European varieties are freestone. They tend to be firm, dense, and less juicy. Look for firm, slightly under-ripe plums. You can use any plum, but be sure to count pits and remove them if they’re not freestone.

A close up of the gluten free Mexican braised chicken and plums with farro in a red ceramic bowl.

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

Almost any simple side dish will work with the braised chicken. On photo day, we had farro cooked in broth (not gluten free), but quinoa, rice, roasted potatoes, cauliflower rice, are all good options. For a “fancy” option, try this farro and wild rice. To round out the meal, we grilled some asparagus.

We loved our Mexican braised chicken and plums with a glass (or two) of dry rosé. A lighter red – pinot noir or merlot – would be nice as well.

Analon Braiser

A good cast iron Dutch oven. This is the one I use (and love!).

Wooden Spatula

A good wood spatula for scraping the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Chipotle Peppers

Chipotles! Use one to three depending on heat preference!

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

A red ceramic bowl with braised chicken and plums alongside herbed farro.

Mexican Braised Chicken and Plums

Chicken and plums braised in a simple chipotle-cumin-triple sec-broth mixture… tender, succulent, delicious with a Mexican vibe!
5 from 3 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 servings
Calories 313 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • A drizzle of olive oil - about a tablespoon
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken - thighs or breasts
  • 1 medium onion - sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic - minced
  • 1 pound plums - pits removed
  • ¼ cup triple sec - or sherry
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 1-3 chipotles with their adobo
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and several grinds fresh pepper

Instructions

  • Brown the chicken – Add a drizzle of olive oil to a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides in batches (don’t crowd the pan). Set aside.
  • Brown the aromatics and cumin – Add the onion to the pan, and sauté until they begin to show some color (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and cumin, and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes. Be careful to not burn the garlic!
  • Add the liquids – De-glaze with the triple sec or sherry, scraping with a stiff spatula (I like wood) to loosen all the browned bits. When the browned bits are combined with the triple sec, stir in the chicken broth, chipotle(s), and salt and pepper. Note: Mash the chipotle up with the edge of your spatula, and stir it in well to avoid a hot bite!
  • Braise the chicken and plums –
    Add the chicken back into the pan, pushing it into the liquid. Follow with the plums. You want about an inch of liquid. Add a bit more if necessary. Bring up to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a tightly-fitting lid. Simmer covered about an hour, checking occasionally the level of the liquid. If your lid fits tightly and the contents are simmering (not boiling), you shouldn't need to add more liquid.
  • Serve – Taste the chicken and plums for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. Serve in a shallow bowl alongside your chosen sides, and garnish with cilantro or parsley. Enjoy!

Notes

The macronutrients are an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the calculation, and no sides are included.

Nutrition

Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 11g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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One Comment

  1. Love this cozy little recipe. Super tender chicken and with the slightly sweet plums makes for a perfect weeknight autumn meal. Delicious!