Flaming Tortillas



Posted By Melissa Pitts

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Cook Time: 45 mins
Preparation Time: 20 mins

"This is the Guatemalan version of pepian. Mexico has it’s own version spelled “pipian” but I grew up with this red version in my house (the recipe come from my aunt Claudia). You can use any kind of protein for this dish, here I used chicken and served with classic white rice (I added peas to mine because I like the color!). I also added two boiled and peeled güisquils (chayote) to make it even more special- but you can add potatoes. Today in Guatemala you can just buy the powder and add the protein and liquid, but in my quest to keep authentic and make sure we don’t forget how to make the real thing, I bugged my aunt for her homemade recipe. The ingredient list may seem a little daunting but it comes together pretty quickly. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have!"


Total Servings: 4


  • 6 chicken cut into 8 pieces, skin removed (or you can do 4 chicken skinless breasts)
  • 6 cups water, (or enough to cover the chicken in a large pot)
  • 1 chicken boullion cube
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 5 tomatoes, cut into fourths
  • 3 tomatillos, cut into half
  • 1 small guajillo chile, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 half of an onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pepitoria (squash seeds or, pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 corn tortillas torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)


  1. In a large pot, add the first 9 ingredients. Let simmer until the chicken is cooked through and reaches the chicken is cooked through. Let cool and shred the chicken (or keep whole if you prefer). Do NOT toss the broth.
  2. In a dry skillet toast the sesame seeds, pepitoria, and cinnamon stick. Let cool slightly.
  3. In another large pot (preferably a dutch oven) heat on medium heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, guajillo, garlic and onion. Cook until just soft- about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. If you don’t let the mixture cool slightly, you will have a mess when you puree them!
  4. In a blender, combine the toasted mixture, the cooled softened vegetables, tortillas, and 1 cup of broth (if using a food processor you will not need as much liquid to get the mixture to puree) and puree until smooth.
  5. Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard the solids. Put the sauce back in the dutch oven, add two cups of the chicken broth and add the chicken. Simmer for about 30 minutes until you get a thicker sauce. 
  6. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with rice and tortillas, if desired.

    **If the mixture is too thin add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (mix 1 tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsps cold water and add to sauce).
    ***If you want an intense red color, add ¼ teaspoon achiote paste



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