Pollo Asado (Roasted Chicken)

When I lived in Kentukcy I saw some brisk winters and learned that when the temperature drops not much comforts like the aroma of a roasting chicken. For us the Latin version just adds another layer for warmth and comfort.

Latin versions of the ubiquitous roasted bird borrow heavily from French traditions, and in my family’s case, with a Caribbean twist. My grandfather (mom’s dad) came from Cuba where they marinated meats overnight in a mixture of citrus juices, wine, and herbs. This results in the marinade penetrating the meat so that even the thickest cut of the breast or even the tenderloin — buried under the breast on one side and shielded by bone on the other — is infused with rich flavor.

My own twist is to halve the chicken — here’s a four-minute technique — then put each half in a Ziploc bag with the marinade, ensuring every surface makes contact with the marinade. It’s traditional to serve this with white rice, black beans and plantains but sometimes I like to serve it with roasted root vegetables like turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes and onions.

Note: this recipe calls for bitter orange, an item that may not be readily available. To substitute, mix 1 part lime or lemon juice + 2 parts orange juice.

Using Bottled Marinade
Bottled marinades work well, taste great and can really save you some work, just check the ingredients for MSG (avoid), hydrogenated oil (again, avoid) and make sure they include vinegar. Then add your own wine. It’s generally recommended that you use a table wine for cooking, but you can get good results from a cooking wine (like sherry) too.

Oh! Forgot to add, the leftovers make GREAT chicken salad!

Pollo Asado (Roasted Chicken)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
When the weather cools, few meals satisfy like a roasted chicken, piping hot from the oven. The Latin marinade brightens the taste of the flesh, and the long marinade time ensures every morsel has soaked up the flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 whole young chicken
  • Juice of two limes
  • Juice of one bitter orange
  • Juice of two lemons
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder (or slices of ¼ onion)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • ¾ cup sherry (1/2 for marinade, ¼ for pan sauce)
  • ¼ onion, diced (for pan sauce)
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed (for pan sauce)
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Trim excess fat and skin from the chicken, especially around the cavity.
  2. Halve the chicken.
  3. Combine all ingredients except for the pan sauce ingredients and split between two zip freezer bags.
  4. Place a half chicken in each bag.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day, preheat oven to 425 degress.
  7. Lay each half chicken in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet, rib-side down.
  8. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken halves. Add about ¼ cup water to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Roast the chicken for 1½ hours (for 4 to 5 lb bird), or until the juices run clear when you pierce between leg and thigh.
  10. When done, place the chicken on a platter and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes.
  11. Place pan on stove, turn heat to medium.
  12. Add onions, garlic and sherry to the pan, scraping up the good stuff from the bottom.
  13. In a bowl combine tomato sauce and flour to make a frightening but awesome slurry.
  14. When the liquid in the pan bubbles, add the slurry.
  15. As it thickens whisk in the tomato paste.
  16. Taste the sauce for salt & pepper.
  17. Serve the sauce at the table or drizzle over the chicken.
Photograph: Daniel Pantoja

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