Picadillo de Pollo

Shredded Chicken in a Savory, Sweet Tomato Sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico


By Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral

Published 2019

  • About

Rotisserie chicken is really big in Mexico. When traveling in Oaxaca and many other parts of Mexico, you’ll probably eat it or at least be tempted to eat it, since it looks like there is a place on every corner just tempting you with juicy roast chicken. When I was a little girl, there was a place called Pollo del Oriente that was a few blocks away from our home. I remember having taquitos de picadillo there for the first time. Picadillo is eaten all around Mexico and sometimes it is made from ground beef, but it will usually have a tomato sauce to hold it all together. Oaxaca’s picadillo is very different from the other picadillos of Mexico. It is a little sweet, but it balances out beautifully once you fold it in a chile relleno or taquito. In this recipe we use boiled chicken, but feel free to use any leftover chicken you have handy, including rotisserie chickens from supermarkets.


  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 16 ounces/450 g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole, plus 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (125 g) chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (360 g) chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 18 blanched almonds, finely chopped
  • ½ cup raisins (75 g), finely chopped
  • cups (270 g) olives, pitted, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (35 g) minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar


Place the chicken, whole garlic cloves, ¼ cup (30 g) of the onion, and salt in a large stockpot filled with water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook over medium heat until the chicken is tender and fully cooked. This will take about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and reserve 1 cup (240 ml) of the broth.

Let the chicken cool. Shred the breast meat with your hands as thinly as possible and set aside.

Place the tomatoes, remaining ¾ cup (95 g) onion, the tomatillos, and ½ cup (120 ml) of the chicken broth into a blender. Blend until smooth and set aside.

Place the oregano, thyme, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon in a molcajete or spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder. Set this aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Once hot, add the blended tomato mixture along with the minced garlic. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the almonds, raisins, olives, and last ½ cup (120 ml) of chicken stock. Stir for 1 minute and then add the parsley. Stir for 2 minutes and add the shredded chicken breast. Stir for 2 minutes more, then add the ground spices. Salt to taste and stir. Add the apple cider vinegar and sugar; stir.

Simmer for another 15 minutes until the chicken has absorbed all the juices in the sauté pan. Serve.