Campfire Chicken Braised in Pumpkin Seed Salsa

Guest post by Mona Johnson & Jaret Foster, Tournant

This satisfying dish is perfect for an outdoor gathering, everything simmering away slowly in a Dutch oven while you sit around the fire, enjoying time in nature with family and friends. With tender braised chicken and a sauce both rich with toasted pumpkin seeds and bright with tomatillos and lime, the resulting dish has a depth of flavor that belies how little effort is actually required.



  • 1 cup hulled pepitas (pumpkin seeds), plus more for garnish
  • 1 lb fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced (about ¾ cup)
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • Handful of cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock, water or beer, plus more as needed
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Jacobsen Rosemary Salt
  • Garnishes: toasted pepitas, sliced radish, cilantro
  • Serve with: sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, and warm tortillas


Toast pumpkin seeds/pepitas:

In a dry cast iron skillet, toast pepitas over medium-high heat, shaking or stirring regularly until they begin to pop and are fragrant and bronzed. Reserving a small handful for garnish, grind the remaining pepitas finely in a blender, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle. 

Prepare sauce ahead:

In a food processor, combine ground pepitas, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, juice of two limes, and a good pinch of salt. Pulse to combine until mostly smooth with some remaining texture. Add salt and additional lime juice to taste to create a bright and flavorful sauce.

Cooking over the fire:

Add sauce and 2 cups of broth, beer, or water to a 10” Barebones Dutch oven. Place Dutch oven in coals and bring to a simmer. Season chicken thighs generously with Jacobsen Rosemary Salt and nestle into sauce, ski
n side up. Place lid on Dutch oven and simmer over medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes, until tender and cooked through. During this time, monitor intermittently to for heat and moisture, adjusting heat to keep at a steady simmer and adding more liquid if sauce is getting too thick or appears to be drying out.

At this point, the tops of the chicken thighs should be peeking out of the sauce. To brown the chicken, place dutch oven over low heat and pile coals on top of the lid. After about 8-10 minutes, use a lid lifter or open fire gloves to carefully lift the lid. You want the chicken to be a tantalizing golden brown and the sauce to be slightly thickened. If additional time is needed, replace the lid and add additional coals, cooking until nicely browned.

To serve: 

Sprinkle finished dish with Jacobsen Rosemary Salt, reserved toasted pepitas, sliced radishes, and cilantro leaves. Scoop onto plates with plenty of sauce and serve with warm tortillas, sliced avocado, and shredded cabbage.

Photos courtesy of Christiann Koepke


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