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chicken – La Gourmandista

Cooking in progress...

Etiqueta: chicken

Chicken Al Pastor (Shepherd’s) Tacos

I’m going take a chance here without any certainty or specific data, but Al Pastor Tacos may be the most popular in Mexico City. At least, that’s what I want to believe. For some reason, I learned a little about how they came about. It turns out I met someone related to the founders of Taquería El Tizoncito in my hometown. They say, they were the ones who invented them. It even says so in their brand’s tag line.

There is, however, little documentation that will help me find if this is totally true. What I do know it that this taco is strictly related to a Lebanese migration which arrived in Mexico. And, should I not be wrong, it was in the 60s when they adapted the Middle Eastern shawarma to ingredients and spices of Central Mexico.

Now, if we put them on a head-to-head. Shawarma is with lamb, while pastor is pork. Nonetheless, in time, it evolved again. Restaurants began to offer a chicken version. I wonder if it had to do with kosher and halal diets getting momentum as well. Maybe.

So, as I prepared the chicken shawarmas my Jewish friend shared with me, I thought that for this year’s Judaic festivities I could share this delicious recipe with the family and travel in some way to the Middle East via Mexico. Traveling through food is always a good option, and today is with two stops, I may say.

By the way, and if you fancy it. These tacos can very well have the pickled jalapeno rounds and veggies I shared around here a good while ago on the side. I’m going to leave easy access to that recipe here in case you need it.

Al Pastor Chicken

The perfect option for everyone who prefers chicken or whose lifestyle avoids eating pork.

  • Small saucepan
  • Blender
  • Kitchen spoon or silicone spatula
  • Big Bowl
  • Baking sheet with rack
  • Cast Iron pan
  • 5 pieces Guajillo peppers (deseeded and deveined)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch cumin (ground)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 slice pineapple (2 cm thick (3/4 inch))
  • 6 chicken thighs with skin and bones
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)

To Serve:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 slices pineapple (cubed)
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • Limes
  • Salsa verde or salsa roja
  1. Add the clean chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Let it come to a boil. Turn off, and let the chiles hydrate about 15 minutes.

  2. Place the garlic, cloves, pineapple, hydrated chiles and ¼ cup of the water where the chiles were hydrated in the blender glass.

  3. Blend the lot. If necessary, add a bit more water. Taste it, and if you feel it too spicy, add a dash more vinegar.

  4. Place the chicken pieces previously pat-dried in the bowl and season them over and under with salt.

  5. Finely slice the onion and add it on top of the chicken.

  6. Pour the thick sauce gently while mixing with the spoon or spatula.

  7. Once everything is covered with the adobo sauce, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

  8. Preheat your oven at 180 °C or 350 °F. Then, set your cast iron pan on the stovetop to heat as well with a drizzle of oil.

  9. Drip the chicken pieces on a baking sheet with a rack on top.

  10. Sear the pieces, one by one and on both sides starting on the side of the skin. Once well seared, set aside on the rack the pieces once more.

  11. Once all the chicken pieces are seared, sweat the onion with a pinch of salt. It won't need much time. Maybe just a couple minutes.

  12. Distribute the onion throughout the pan's surface and the chicken pieces in one even layer. If you need to use a second pan, use it.

  13. Bake for about 20 minutes. Verify the chicken is cooked to 75 °C or 165 °F.

  14. Personally, I like serving the pieces already deboned. So what I do is debone and either cut or mix the meat to mix with the now caramelized onions for my guests to prepare their tacos family style.

* This recipe is adapted from the Tacos al Pastor recipe from the book Mexico: The Cookbook, Margarita Carrillo Aponte, Phaidon.

Main Course
Mexican
al pastor, chicken, tacos

Discover the Technique for Deliciously Crispy Fried Chicken

Talking about fried chicken in America is probably equally important, I’d like to think as talking about Enchiladas in Mexico or about tarts in France. Each region has their own version. They are all unique recipes, yet identifiable one by one. When I was a little girl, my mom made a her own version. Now, as I look at it, I know it was way simpler than what I have learnt how to prepare, but, I understand this was her Nana’s recipe, so ladies and gentlemen, my mama’s recipe shall remain untouchable. 

Now, at home we just called that recipe “Kentucky Chicken”, since we referred to it making reference to the fast food restaurant which today sells fried chicken in many countries around the World. Obviously, fried chicken wasn’t invented by the Colonel who wears the black bow tie, but he probably did make it popular outside the U.S.A. However, in this land, and as it can be seen in the history annals, fried chicken is a staple preparation of any southern family, especially spiced thanks to the flavors slaves brought into the country with them. So, the recipe I am sharing with you today is, adapted as per what I currently have available in my pantry and that we enjoy. It is one of the many versions loved by everyone, notwithstanding their age and which makes all go ‘yummy in the tummy’.

Fried Chicken

Who doesn't love fried chicken? I think that everyone does at one point or another. I thought with age I would stop loving it, but no, so, from time to time, I allow ourselves to enjoy this classic from the American South.

  • Big Bowl
  • 2 Medium bowls
  • Whisk
  • Plastic wrap
  • Medium pot or Dutch Oven
  • 2 Baking sheets
  • 2 Cooling racks
  • Deep-fry oil thermometer (if you have one, but highly recommended)
  • Tongs or Spider
  • Instant-read thermometer

For the marinade:

  • 1 chicken cut into 10 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts each one halved as well to have 4 white meat pieces)
  • 1 l buttermilk (I used homemade kéfir because it’s what I had available and it worked marvelously)
  • 10-12 thyme sprigs (leaves only)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 7 g paprika
  • 10 g garlic powder
  • 6 g onion powder
  • 5 g Cayenne pepper (optional if you want a little kick in the flavor)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the seasoned flour:

  • 270 g unbleached all-purpose white flour
  • 35 g sea salt
  • 5 g pepper (in this case I used allspice because it’s more aromatic than black pepper, but whatever you have at hand will work well)
  • 7 g paprika
  • 2 g dry oregano
  • 2 g dry sage

For the coating:

  • 250 ml buttermilk (again, I used my homemade kéfir)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 2 g baking soda
  • Frying oil (I always use peanut oil, but you may use any other you prefer. However, choose something neutral such as safflower, sunflower, etc. I would recommend you avoid coconut, avocado, grapeseed, or olive oil, though.)
  1. In a deep enough bowl, mix in all the ingredients for the marinade well. Add the chicken in the end. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. However, it is ideal to let it rest overnight.
  2. Whenever you’re getting ready to deep fry your chicken, take it out of the refrigerator and place the pieces on a baking sheet and rack to drip the excess of the marinade.
  3. Separately, prepare the seasoned flour in a bowl by mixing all the ingredients. Equally, prepare a third bowl with the coating mixture.

  4. In a deep enough pot simulate a deep fryer. I use either a medium pot or Dutch Oven where I can put about three pieces per batch, and fill it half-way with the frying oil. If you have a clip deep-fry oil thermometer, the task will be much easier, since you will be monitoring the temperature of the oil at all times. Heat the oil to 350 °F (180 °C). Honestly, I think this is the most important secret for well-cooked crispy chicken, since you will avoid your oil from burning.

  5. When the oil is about to reach the desired temperature, take the first piece you have dripping and dredging it with the seasoned flour. Then, dredge in the bowl with coating and back into the seasoned flour. Finally, immerse the piece in the pot very carefully. Repeat this stage with each chicken piece being careful your pot or Dutch oven isn’t overcrowded to allow the pieces develop their crispiness. Be conscious and careful about your oil. Avoid it from being above the desired 350 °F (180 °C), so adjust the heat from the stove as needed.
  6. Whenever the chicken pieces reach 165 °F (75 °C) take them out of the pot and let them drip the excess oil on a baking sheet and rack. Whenever your chicken is ready and dripped, serve immediately so that you enjoy it crispy.
  7. Serve with onion rings, coleslaw, and biscuits with honey butter.
  • I generally leave my chicken pieces in the marinade about 12 hours, but be sure to at least leave them in there for 2. The longer, the more flavorful your dish will turn out.
  • When you deep-fry, be sure that the oil has arrived to the desired temperature, this will make a crispy batter and your chicken will not be soggy or fatty. 
  • To verify the temperature of the chicken and be sure the pieces are fully cooked through, use an instant-read thermometer. This is a tool that will definitely make the task much easier.
Main Course
American
chicken, fried chicken, Kentucky chicken, lockdown2020, stay home

On Chickens, Ducks, and Guinea Fowls

We were just in the third class when I had to face the chicken… It sounded easy. It didn’t seem very difficult. However, once I had the bird before me, I had no idea where to begin.

To prepare any poultry in order to cook it, one must start practically in the same way, notwithstanding which one it is this time. One has to stretch it, burn the few feathers left behind, take the tendons out, cut the feet when applicable, be-head, de-gut, truss, or cut in pieces, and theeeen one can start to cook it.

To see it being done for the first time was fascinating, especially if we consider I was a mere spectator, and it would be others the ones responsible of getting out of the classroom and reproduce what the Chef Instructor had prepared. The second time, however, I was much more worried, since I had to repeat each and every step in the same way they had been shown in class. Little by little, I started feeling more at ease with the procedure. I even became competent enough to increase my speed at the task. I had to learn how to cut into pieces, how to obtain the different pieces, and even how to make it into a “ballotine”. If we talk about the duck, then we have to think about leaving the thighs and the legs well done, while the breast fillets have to be rosé. With Guinea fowls one has to be careful of not overcooking because the meat ends up with a rubbery texture. Anyhow, the learning process seems infinite, and practice makes master, they say. I have no idea how many birds I have be-headed even with the obscurantism entailed. I have a lot of fun when I go to the market and tell my merchant it is not necessary for him to do anything else but wrap the little beastie in some paper and he wishes me “good cuisine”. To remember in retrospection my first homemade roasted chicken which I had the courage to prepare for dinner because my friend who doesn’t even prepare a sandwich told me it was so easy to do even she could achieve them without any problem whatsoever, and even though I made it a little bit blindly, it came out really nice, and it seems it was a long time ago, yet it was just a couple of years ago.

By now, I have prepared a whole bunch of traditional dishes with a poultry base in the last few months, and even though there surely will be many more to experiment in the next quarter, I still have to learn about pigeons, quails, or any other unknown bird which hasn’t found its way towards my dining room table.

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