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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Smoky and Garlicky Marinated Roasted Chicken with Cabbage Apple Slaw

Hi everyone

So, I already posted about my newly-found love for Nicaraguan food. Well, for the little time left in Miami, I will mostly be trying new Nicaraguan recipes and taking advantage of the easy access to the ingredients as well as taste-testing other people's versions of a given dish. Well, there are a number of Nicaraguan meats that come in this deliciously flavorful red, adobo-based marinade--chancho con yuca (pork rind (with the meat still attached, not just fat)with cassava), costillas asadas (grilled ribs), and pollo asado (grilled chicken). I have loved every dish I've had with this marinade, but I couldn't figure out what on earth was in it or how it was made. The problem was, I had no idea if the marinade had a set name, so I couldn't Google a recipe as I usually would.

Well, today I just searched "pollo asado." I was thinking I wouldn't really get anything because Nicaraguans don't seem too crazy about chicken unless it's in soups. They prefer to make braised and grilled meats with pork and beef, and at the fritangas, everyone wants carne asada (grilled steak, flank, I think) or cerdo asado (roast pork). In fact, he quintessential fritanga meal is carne asada with gallo pinto (mixed rice and beans),  plantains and a side of ensalada (pickled cabbage slaw). So anywho, I did find a recipe and a dang good one. The lady included a recipe for a good stock of that magic marinade I'd been trying to figure out for so long.  For those who have never had this marinade, it is smoky, garlicky, and that nice tang that all Nicaraguan food has.  It really is delicious!  This marinade is called achiote, which is also the name of the red powder that is part of its ingredients.  So, confusion resolved--there is a homemade achiote seasoning blend and an achiote powder from annatto seed.  Some of those times I saw achiote in a Nicaraguan recipe, they were talking about this marinade, not the regular spice in powder or seed form.  Traditionally, meats with this marinade are char-grilled, but I used a Foreman.  It was yummy and juicy, but, man, it would've been super delish with the flavor from a charcoal grill.  Mmmm, mmm!

I was just trying for something simple and fast today since I've been super busy and I really wasn't expecting much. As simple as it was, my dinner was delicious! I would even say it was "wow!". What made it wow was that instead of accompanying my dish with the traditional ensalada that I had, I had been itching to try my own recipe using apples, so I had that instead. As incredibly simple as it is, my pickled cabbage and apple slaw was divine! When the flavors of the cabbage, apple, and lime juice mixed, the result was a totally different flavor. It had a slightly sweet tang that was just what I wanted. The radish gave a little zip to it all and, oh my, deliciousness!

Here's the recipe! Enjoy!


*This recipe was adapted from Cocina del Mundo

1 head of garlic
4 oz achiote (annatto powder)
1 oz cumin
1/2 oz black pepper
white vinegar (add until you get a smooth paste)

Smash the garlic in a mortar and pestle until you achieve a homogeneous paste.  Once you have a paste, smash in the cumin achiote, and black pepper and blend.  Once  you have a homogeneous mixture again, add in white vinegar and smash in, blending and adding enough vinegar to achieve a uniform, creamy paste.

*Just as a fair warning, be very careful with achiote.  It does stain--countertops, clothing, floors, whatever.  If it gets on something, try cleaning it immediately with baking soda and vinegar.

Chicken Preparation:
Rinse the chicken well.  Wash it with bitter orange juice (rub the meat with bitter orange) and let it sit.  After maybe 10 minutes, pour off the excess bitter orange, but do not rinse it.

Salt the meat and rub with the seasoning paste you made.  Let the meat marinade for at least an hour, but I would recommend 4 hours - overnight.  The flavor is much more intense if you marinate longer.  Go ahead and prepare this in the morning before work or school.  It takes no time to salt some meat and coat it with a pre-made marinade.

Cabbage Apple Slaw
1/4 large cabbage (finely shredded ?? (cut into shreds with a knife)
1 radish (very thinly sliced)
1/2 fuji apple
juice of one lime
a splash of some sort of vegetable oil (preferably one that has a little  flavor, such as corn or olive oil)
Splash of vinegar (you don't want a ton of liquid, just the minimum to soften the vegetables)
a very small pinch of oregano (optional)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Chop the veggies and put them into a container with a top.  Mix tall of he liquids together with the spices and season to taste.  Pour over the veggies and let sit for at an hour before serving.  This salad is best the same day, but it's still preserved and tastes fine afterwards, too; it just loses a bit of its zip.

**Tip: Be sure to squeeze the lime juice first and set it aside so that you can pour it over the shredded apple immediately or while in the process so that it does not oxidize and turn a yucky brown.

Serve everything with either gallo pinto or the Nicaraguan white rice recipe from my original Nicaraguan food post.