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Pati's Mexican Table : TV Recipes

Pati Jinich

Pollo a la basura
Serves 4-6

6 skinless and boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound poblano chiles (3 to 4), charred, sweated, peeled, seeded, cut into strips
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, about 4 cups, peeled, cubed, and cooked in salted water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt, divided, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup prunes, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup raw and hulled pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste, and black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick, 12-inch skillet or casserole over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, brown the chicken pieces for about 2 minutes on one side. Flip to the other side and stir in the onion; cook until the onions are completely softened and beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring the onions often. Add the garlic; and cook for another minute.

Add the poblano chiles and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and give the entire mixture another good stir. Add the prunes. Pour in the water, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) into the mixture, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes more, stirring once or twice in between.

Meanwhile, toast the seeds. Place a small, sauté pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, stirring often and taking care not to burn them, until you hear popping sounds and they begin to brown lightly, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the seeds from the heat and place in a small bowl.

Once the chicken is ready, add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, gently mix. Taste for seasoning and serve.


Made this and the teens were good sports to try something that looked really different. Unusual flavors but we all really liked it. Ate my potatoes with Greek yogurt and loved the way the toasted seeds tasted. Thanks!

Lita, Thank you for trying the recipe! It can be tough getting the kids to try new things sometimes – I’m so happy to hear they liked it!!

I saw your show for the first while invisting Arlington, Texas by on November 10. I’m hispanic. I love my mexican food. My mother was from Guadalajara. She taught me all the recipes I cook at home. But when I saw the Chicken a la Trash. I new I was going to try to do it. I mouth was so watery that I can wait to get all the ingredientes for the recipe. I hope that it will be a good as what I saw on your show. Keep up the your great show.

Ana, How fortunate you are to have learned to cook Mexican food from your mother! I bet you know some amazing dishes!! Thank you so, so much for taking time to write me.

I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! It was hearty and perfect for a winter evening without being too high in fat and calories (although my husband did go back for a large second helping). I thought the toasted seeds totally made the dish too. I can’t wait for make this meal for guests too. Thanks Pati!

Can I leave out the prunes? Or is there a substitute I can use instead of the prunes? Thank you in advance!

I really wanted to try this recipe but my store didn’t have all the exact ingredients. The poblanos were wilty and in bad shape so, I got canned diced green chillies. Boneless chicken thighs were on sale so,I grabbed those. And the store didn’t have hulled pumpkin seeds. I decided to try the recipe with the sun flour seeds doubled was still delicious.

Hi Alecia, Thank you for trying the recipe! I think it’s great that you improvised when you couldn’t find all the ingredients!!

Hi Pati

Thank you for the wonderful recipe chicken a la trash, it is excellent. This is the year I want to expand my knowledge of Mexican cusine and you’re going to be my guide, ole!

Sooooo good. I deboned chicken thighs. Fire roasted the pablanos on my bbq chimney starter with a small grate. Toasting the pumpkin seeds and hearing them pop is just more fun (I also toast and pop my brown rice mex rice). My wife thinks this one the best. Have made it a couple of times, it will be a goto meal.

Is it possible to eliminate all the salt?

Hola Enoch, Of course you can eliminate the salt!!

Hola Pati :)

I just made this recipe, OMG !!!! This is amazing. Luv how all the different tastes come together. This a keeper for our house .

We LUV your show and have tried a couple of your recipes.
Thank you Pati and we hope you are having a great 2013 so far.

Paul and Jaci

Imperial, MO

Paul and Jaci, It’s wonderful to hear you trying the recipes in your house!! I hope you all are having a great 2013, so far, as well!

Thanks for listing the weight of ingredients in your recipes when appropriate. Volume measurements can be variable.

Kitchen scales are cheap; I don’t understand the resistance of some casual cooks to buy a kitchen scale.

Thanks, Pati ! This was great.
Now I have to remake this into a stew for summer camping large group feeds.

Thank you for trying the recipe, Fred!! I hope all the campers enjoy — sounds fun!

I am so happy that I just found the Trash Chicken recipe online! I saw you do it on TV and thought I could remember and actually didn’t do too badly-forgot the part of charring the poblanos. The first time I made it I forgot to buy the prunes so substituted dates which were quite good-and used boneless thighs. The second time I used prunes and chicken breasts-also a hit. I was wondering if you ever used hotter peppers in it like serranos? I love hot-hot-hot but the slighty hot poblanos are great for the rest of my family. Thanks so much!


Hola Cheryl, I’m so happy to hear your family is enjoying this dish — I bet it’s delicious with dates!! If you want to kick it up a notch, but not make it too hot, you could try adding a more Poblano chiles.

Made this for Sunday dinner today. It was delicious! My husband was somewhat skeptical about the combination of peppers, prunes and pumpkin seeds, but he’s a big fan of yours, so he agreed to try it if I made it. He and everyone else at dinner today loved it! Thanks for a great recipe that will definitely be a keeper!

Thank you for trying the recipe, Cindy. I’m glad everyone enjoyed!!

Hi Pati!

I just stumbled upon your show while TV surfing today. Quick question, why is it called Chicken a la Trash? Thank you for your time! Looking forward to trying your recipes!

Noreen :)

Hi Noreen,
Lovely name, no? Just because it has such a random mix of ingredients and so many of them…

I see! Thanks for the reply, Pati! :) I just want to say that you’re an inspiration to me to follow our passion and what makes us happy. Thank you for sharing your recipes with us! God bless you!

Noreen :)

Gracias Noreen!!!!!!!!!

Help! Sounds great, but my wife balked at the prunes. do you think dates are OK, or is there a more authentic Hispanic substitute?

Hola Larry, Of course, you can substitute dates! It is also good with raisins, dried cranberries, or candied pineapple!

Hola Pati,

Was thinking of trying this recipe with a crockpot as I like when the chicken falls apart.


Hi Joe, Let me know how it turns out, if you do try it in a crockpot.

Hey Pati

I couldn’t resist tying this recipe, I followed your great instruction on the show. The chicken received rave reviews and was wonderful. What a versatile recipe ! I followed your ingredients this time; But cannot wait to mix it up next time. Thank you so much a sharing


Cassiusbob, I’m so happy you jumped right in and tried this!! Thank you so much for letting me know how it turned out. Let me know if you find any good twists on it.

This looks unbelievable! I love trying new food combinations and these ingredients seem so interesting! Gracias, Pati!

I hope you will try it, Caroline! Please let me know what you think…

I’ve been to Northern Mexico a few times on mission trips and always love it! When I got home this year I discovered your program and my husband and I have been watching since. Tonight I made my first of your recipes – Pollo a la Basura – and we really liked the great combination of flavors. I see how flexible the recipe could be with whatever chicken you have on hand, a few basic ingredients, and room to improvise. Also I charred my first poblano peppers tonight. It worked just like you showed. Thanks for the great recipe!

Hi Bonnie, Thank you very much for writing to me!! I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed the Pollo a la Basura! Please let me know if there is ever anything you discover on your trips to Mexico that you can’t find a recipe for.

Thank you for offer! Do you know what I love a recipe for? Pozole. A very gracious lady made pozole for us when we were in Mexico and we loved it. I’ve looked online and found so many recipes it’s hard to know which to choose. I’d trust any recipe I got from you Pati. Thanks.

Pati, I want to try your Chicken a la Trash recipe. Can I use a dried Poblano Chili instead of charring etc myself (to speed things up). And IF so, how many would you recommend to replace the fresh ones in this recipe. Thanks, Jan

Hi Jan, The dried Poblano chile is the Ancho, and it really is a different ingredient. Once you char, steam and peel the Poblanos you will realize it was not so complicated! Give it a try!

Patti is right (of course!) about the flavors of an Ancho and a Poblano being quite different. A Poblano is usually sold while green. An Ancho is a dried ripe dark red Poblano.

Different folks use different methods to char a Poblano. I have a gas range. I just put the Poblano directly on the burner grate. I let the pepper char black over high heat. Turn the Poblano with tongs only when the flame side gets black.

After the Poblano is black, I put the pepper in a glass bowl and cover it with cling wrap. Doing so self-steams the pepper which loosens the char and allows the Poblano to cool.

I put a plastic bag in the sink and remove the char from the pepper with several dry paper towel sheets. Most of the char and char filled paper towels go into the bag. It is a messy job so I use disposable plastic gloves. Be generous with the use of paper towels.

I never rinse the pepper because I believe that some flavor literally goes down the drain with the rinse. The char will darken the Poblano a bit, but that gives the pepper some character.

If you don’t have a gas range, use a BBQ or broiler.

I think I recall that Patti uses a paper bag to steam the peppers, but that is for her to say.

Oh my gosh Pati, I just fell upon your show recently and your enthusiasm and joy made me want to stick around. As soon as you made this “Chicken Trash” I have been hooked and decided to try it tonight. I was a little afraid of the chili’s because I don’t do well with them but it didn’t matter because this dish is magnificent. My Nana was Mexican, with five sisters and 2 brothers. It is sad to say the Mexican side was not around my side of the family and I am so envious. My husband will try anything and he so appreciated that I “even” cooked tonight. Thank you Pati and I will be buying your cookbook soon!

Hola Kat, Thank you very much for writing to me! I love hearing about your Nana, and it’s a shame you weren’t able to be around your Mexican relatives more. I hope cooking some of the dishes will help you connect a little more. All of my very best to you.

Dear Pati
I made this chicken dish last Friday and it was amazing, just like you said. I can see why your sister put it permanently on her menu. It is definitely worthy of any fine restaurant.
I used skinless and boneless thigh from which I trimmed excess fat before cooking.
This is definitley a keeper.
Liz Gober

Skinless and boneless thigh is a great idea as they have SO much flavor Liz…

This is a new favorite! I love the combination of dried fruit and roasted chiles, and decided to try this recipe for a small dinner with friends. The recipe is SO easy to follow, and my kitchen time was pretty minimal. With potatoes in the dish, I did not even have to make rice. I served the dish with a green salad, garlic bread and chardonnay from a recent winery tour of the Valle de Guadalupe. Next up: barrio chino green beans!!

Another success story of great cuisine! I made this delicious dish tonight September 15, 2013! It was delicious and warm to the heart! It made me feel special inside, because you make us feel special out here. This dish is dynamic as your personality. You inspire me to want to keep cooking and exploring my culinary expertise beyond my wildest food dreams as a home chef. The next time I make this dish, I’m going to add white wine for extra richness to the flavor. This is one of those delightful dishes where the flavor intensifies the longer is sits as good home made past sauce does…so for me this dish would be even better to sit over night in the fridge, reheated the next day and then served. I’m planning on making it with cauliflower the next time instead of potatoes. It’s fun to experiment to make it your own. A bay leaf or rosemary version would be good. If I do rosemary, potatoes would be best to keep in this wonderful dish! Lady I love you with God’s love. You are such a beautiful person and host. Thanks so much for making cooking a lot of fun!!

Pati, I saw your show for the first time yesterday. You made the Chicken a la Trash and Impossible Chocoflan and I was totally hooked. You make it easy with your tips and explanations. I just finished printing off about 8 of your recipes and will make all of them. I love finding old family recipes and trying them with the original ingredients. Love your show, Bill

Gracias Bill!

Yesterday, I saw this episode and decided I had to make this dish! I am on a very strict diet right now to identify food allergies. I’m not allowed to eat gluten, dairy, or eggs. It is very tough to find foods in my diet that are tasty and filling! I’ve been watching createTV cooking shows in vain hoping to see something that will inspire me to cook dishes I can eat. This one was perfect.

My boyfriend loved it, too. I know you said that it was great on it’s own (and I believe you). But we served it over rice just so we could stretch it out a little longer. It was amazing! Thanks so much!

Hola Jessica, I’m so happy you tried my recipe!! Thank you so much for watching the show – and for writing to me! :)

This was so easy to make, healthy ingredients, and absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! I didn’t change anything and it turned out perfect. I needed another dish for a lunch event that I am having. Chicken A La Trash is it. Thanks Pati!

Thank you for trying my recipe!! I’m so excited you are choosing it for your lunch event. Let me know how it goes!

Episode recently rerun on digital channel in Phoenix. Used pasillas instead of poblanos, didn’t recall potatoes, but added about a tablespoon of soy and several of honey which intensified the prunes. Loved the results and will stick to the original next time to compare. Love the show.

Those do sound like nice adaptations… Thanks for watching the show!

Hola Pati!
This recipe was amazingly delicious. I made it because the ingredients were few and simple yet a hardy meal in one pot. I’m learning more and more about my culture and the vast variety of dishes from different parts of Mexico. My mom is from Puebla and my father from Michoacan. I have visited both states and tried their traditional famous cuisine. Mexico has delicious food that has blown my mind away. You can’t get that taste here. Thank you for showing America the variety and influence Mexican cuisine has.

Followed your recipe and it was AMAZING! Husband doesnt like prunes, but he soo loved this dish. Very tasty! Also made your Horchata recipe. That too, AMAZING! Muy Sabroso!!! Thank you for sharing your recipes. I plan on trying lots of them, and im defiantly going to purchase your cookbook soon. Thanks again!

So happy to hear you are trying many of my recipes, Glenn! Thank you!!

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