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Alvin Starkman Articles >  Oaxacan Chicken Estofado de Miltomate



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Oaxacan Chicken Estofado de Miltomate

Recipe for Oaxacan Chicken Estofado de Miltomate (Green Tomato) Illustrates Mole, Stew Difference

Alvin Starkman, M.A., LL.B. (Alvin’s archive)

While even the suggestion of there being only seven moles in Oaxaca is both misleading and arguably fallacious, there are in fact several broad categories of mole sauces cooked in this Southern Mexico state (such as mole negro, mole amarillo and mole verde); but it may come as a surprise to learn that estofado is not one of them.

The Spanish word “estofado” means “stew” And in Oaxaca’s state capital and central valleys, when one orders a comida termed “estofado,” be it of tongue, chicken, or simply estofado de miltomate, except for the primary protein the ingredients tend to be very similar (of course subject to some regional variation based on availability of ingredients, and cultural tradition), and the dish is prepared as one might expect of a North American style stew.  Traditionally, moles are sauces which are poured over a protein or vegetables at or near the end of preparation, while stews are made differently.

The chicken estofado de miltomate recipe reproduced below comes from the kitchen of the late Esperanza Chavarria Blando, with permission of her estate.  The preparation method of the recipe admittedly approximates how moles are usually made because the meat does not stew with the other ingredients for very long, and in fact the chicken is cooked separately – just like in most mole recipes.  Nevertheless, it’s a traditional recipe created by one of Oaxaca’s foremost chefs over the course of three decades of cooking for her restaurants Quickly and El Mirador, and representing Oaxaca in competitions in the state capital and throughout Mexico.

The beauty of the recipe is its ease and simplicity, and ability to be adapted for use in preparing other meats.  Here in Oaxaca, the recipe usually contains either chicken or tongue.  But in virtually all Oaxacan estofados, regardless of main protein, one finds that tell-tale bit of sweetness, and the use of raisins, olives and almonds.  Rajas provide the bite.  Rajas are pickled, sliced chiles (generally jalapeño), usually containing additional vegetables, mainly sliced carrots and onions.

It is noteworthy, especially for those visiting Oaxaca, that while estofado is indeed a stew, when other types of stews are prepared in Oaxaca, they are known as “guisados,” and the term “estofado” is reserved for dishes with the primary ingredients as set out in this recipe.

For this estofado recipe, use whatever comes in the can of rajas. Virtually all Latin American food stores throughout Canada and the United States sell them, although the label may or may not contain that word on it. However a typical label might read Chiles Jalapeños en Rajas en Escabeche.  One of the meanings of “raja” is “slice;” hence rajas refers to the slices, while “escabeche” means “pickling brine.”

Note that Doña Esperanza’s clear preference was to use ceramic or crockery for stovetop preparation of the recipe, and a wooden utensil for spooning (and measuring) the rajas.  The ingredient list has been adapted so as to enable the preparer to know the correct amount of rajas to purchase, in this case perhaps two 380 gram cans. Doña Esperanza simply assumed that everyone preparing her recipe without a doubt would know what size of wooden spoon she meant.


by Esperanza Chavarria Blando


    • 1 medium chicken
    • ½ kilo of miltomate (green tomatoes)
    • 150 grams each, of raisins, almonds and green olives
    • 2 C of canned rajas
    • 5 cloves of garlic
    • ½ large onion
    • Vegetable oil
    • Salt to taste
    • Sugar


Boil quartered chicken with gizzard in water with 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, ¼ onion, and salt to taste

Peel and wash miltomate (traditionally purchased with paper-thin filament, so omit the peeling if buying plain green tomatoes in a typical North American supermarket), then cut into small pieces

Heat oil in a large Atzompa cazuela (typical regional green glazed pottery stovetop casserole) or other crockery vessell, or substitute as best possible; then add tomato pieces, ¼ chopped onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic

Place almonds in a bowl with water, heat in microwave so as to enable removal of skins, then chop

Place cooked chicken in the mashed miltomate mixture, adding about ¾ of the broth, and return to flame

Add olives, raisins and almonds, and then boil for about 10 minutes

Add 4 large wooden spoonsful of rajas, 1 – 2 heaping T sugar, and finally gizzard

Owner of Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast (, Oaxaca resident Alvin Starkman leads personalized tours to the craft villages, market towns, pre-Hispanic ruins and more off-the-beaten-track sights in the central valleys of Oaxaca, is a consultant to documentary film production companies working in the region, and writes articles about life and cultural traditions in Oaxaca (including restaurant reviews) for magazines, newspapers and travel websites.  Alvin also arranges Oaxaca culinary tours with Chef Pilar Cabrera (  Casa Machaya Oaxaca B & B combines the comfort and service of a downtown Oaxaca hotel with the quaintness and personal touch of country inn accommodations.



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