Friday, May 27, 2011

Pollo a las Brasas con Cebollitas (Mexican Roadside Chicken with Green Onions)

I am fascinated by street food from different countries. Perhaps I have watched a few too many episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations or Bizarre Foods, following either Tony Bordain or Andrew Zimmern cruise the streets of some far away city, buying and trying a wide range of foods from street vendors.

A few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for Pollo a las Brasas con Cebollitas or Mexican Roadside Chicken with Green Onions.  The recipe is based upon the chicken grilled at roadside or highway-side stands in the Mexican State of Sinaloa.  I tried to find some information about the place of grilled chicken in Sinaloan cuisine or its street food traditions, but I  was unsuccessful.  However, I did find that this recipe originated with Rick Bayless and his book, Mexican Everyday.  Being a fan of Bayless' show, Mexico - One Plate at a Time, which airs on PBS, I decided that I would make this dish.

There was another reason why I wanted to make this dish.  I recently bought a chipotle ale and was looking to pair this beer with a dish.  I thought that the smoky flavors of the beer would pair well with the flavors of the grilled chicken.  So this effort represents a unusual convergence of two interests, street food and beer pairing. 

In terms of the preparation for this dish, this recipe actually included a first for me.  It was the first time that a butterflied a whole chicken.  I bought a locally raised, organic chicken and, with a pair of food shears, I cut carefully around the backbone and then removed the keel bone.   I am not sure why I have not butterflied a whole chicken in the past, but this effort will definitely not be my last. 

(Mexican Roadside Chicken with Green Onions)
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the Chicken and Onions):
1 three pound chicken
2 bunches of green onions or scallions
Salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
Olive oil for brushing the onions

Ingredients (for the Wet Rub):
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
1 big pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, diced finely
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of orange juice

1.  Prepare the chicken.  Begin by butterflying the chicken.  Place the chicken on its breasts.  With a pair of kitchen shears, cut alongside the backbone and then cut along the other side of the backbone.  Remove the backbone and then open the chicken like a book.  Proceed to remove the keel bone by making an incision through the thin membrane covering it.  Use your fingers to get underneath the bone and, using leverage, lift it out.  

2.  Prepare the wet rub.  Combine all of the ingredients for the rub and stir.  

3.  Marinate the chicken.  Heat a grill to about 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breast and skin side down.  Proceed to baste the exposed side of the chicken with the wet rub.  Flip over the chicken and baste the other side with the rub.

4.  Grill the chicken.  Cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about forty five minutes or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.  Remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for about 10 or 15 minutes. 

5.  Grill the onions.  While the chicken is resting, brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt.  Place the onions on the grill.  Cook until the onions are tender and brown, about five minutes per side.  

6.  Finish the dish.  Cut the chicken into quarters, and serve with green onions.


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