Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chicken in escabeche

Tonight’s dinner left me completely content, which is a rarity. Usually I find something to grumble about, something that should have been done differently. Tonight, though, was really, really good. We did Chicken in escabeche with Sweet potatoes and lime.

Chicken in escabeche
Originally, escabeche was a way for Spanish cooks to essentially pickle food as a way of preserving it. Today, if you eat chicken in escabeche in Spain, you’re eating chicken that has been cooked, then cooled, in its marinade, and served at room temperature. This dish, from Sunset Mexican is not Spanish escabeche; it’s something wildly, wonderfully different.

For the escabeche paste (you will use 2½ tablespoons of this paste)
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon each ground allspice, ground cloves, ground cumin, and ground coriander
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 tablespoons each orange juice and white wine vinegar

For the chicken
2½ tablespoons escabeche paste
3½- to 4-pound frying chicken, cut up
1½ cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon salad oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 7-oz. can diced green chiles
1½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1½ tablespoons water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Prepare escabeche paste: Mix all ingredients until blended. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes ¼ cup.
2. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, deeply pierce chicken all over. Rub paste on chicken, pushing some under skin. Place in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan; pour in broth. Cover and bake in a 400 degree oven until chicken is tender when pierced (about 40 minutes).
3. Remove chicken from broth. Drain and strain. Skim and discard fat from broth; reserve broth.
4. Place drained chicken on a preheated broiler pan 4 to 6 inches below heat. Broil, turning once, until well browned (6 to 8 minutes). Or, grill on a lightly greased 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of medium-hot coals. Cook, turning as needed until well browned (10 to 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions and cook, stirring, until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in chiles, reserved broth, and cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, Stir in cilantro. Spoon sauce over individual servings of chicken. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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