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Monday, September 17, 2007

Pollo pibil

Mexican independence day caught me unawares yet again, but this year I celebrated it anyway, albeit a day late. Poor Mexicans, I'm afraid there wasn't much celebrating this year since their presidential election has been ensnared in a legal battle. Sound familiar? Ahem...

I've recently discovered banana leaves at the Coop, so I decided to make a streamlined version of Diana Kennedy's pollo pibil. Please forgive the awful photography; lighting in my kitchen is terrible and I'm still trying to figure out how to work with it.

You'll need to start first thing in the day or even the night before to let the chicken marinate.

1 T achiote (annatto)
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t dried oregano
1 t allspice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T salt
1/4 cup orange juice or mild white vinegar mixed with a little honey
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 T water
several pieces of chicken (I used 8 thighs)

Blend ingredients into a paste and set aside 1/4 t of it. Pierce chicken all over and then rub paste over the chicken. Let chicken marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours. (Full disclosure, I misread the recipe and added too much water to the marinade so I didn't retain as much of the spice paste when I went to cook the chicken, que lastima.)

2-3 banana leaves
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup crushed tomatoes
remaining 1/4 t seasoning paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soften onion in vegetable oil (without browning the onion) and add tomato and seasoning paste. Cook for a couple minutes.

Layer one banana leaf in a baking dish. Pour half of the tomato mixture inside.

Layer the chicken pieces on the leaf.

Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken.

Cover with rest of leaf and another leaf, tucking into sides.

Cover dish with a lid and cook for 30 minutes. Rotate pieces of chicken and baste if necessary, then cover again as before and cook another 20 minutes. Remove lid and top leaves, raise oven temperature to 425 degrees, and brown chicken.

We had this with corn tortillas, avacado, and, because I'm Mexican-American, sweet potato fries.

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