Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Chicken Delicious

If I'm craving chicken and don't want to make something, I go to Chicken Delicious.

But I've I'm craving good chicken at home, have some time to think about it and a little time to go it...I make this, my infamous Pollo Verde. I don't follow a recipe. I've made it enough times, I just know when things are going to be all right. Here is a previous version.

Pollo Verde
To start with my green chicken, we start with what will become the marinade. 1 bunch of cilantro, leaves and most of the stems. Well washed. Several times. You don't want any sand in the leaves. Discard any brown or black leaves, those are nasty! Then you need some peppers. Please, no bell peppers. And you want mostly green peppers. I used Ancho, Sweet Banana and Jalapeno. Usually I only use one jalapeno, but I taste it to see how the spice level is. If it's mild, I'll go with two. With the other peppers, I usually try to have 3-4 each. Roughly chopped, with the seeds removed. Plenty of salt and ground black pepper. The rest of the green comes from lime juice. Usually I go with two limes. And for something fun, add about 1/2 a teaspoon of whole coriander seeds. **Note, I added whole, I should have smashed them a little. Crunching of those seeds--little brown seeds towards the top of the picture--is an experience; I'm talking flavor. Anyway. Drop in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil as well. Whiz it all together in the food processor or blender until smooth and sauce-like. Oh, if you like, you can add some garlic. I prefer to skip the garlic.

Reserve about 1/3 of the sauce for serving later with your chicken and for brushing on while the chicken grills. **See, there are more coriander seeds that didn't chop up in the processor. When you bite into them, they have a highly floral flavor. Very interesting. Not awful. But very interesting. Pour the rest of the green sauce over chicken thighs. I only use chicken thighs with this recipe. It's just that good. Boneless/Skinless is good, but you want the dark meat. If you're going to make this, use chicken thighs, you'll thank yourself later! Make sure the chicken is fully coated, seal in a bowl or zip bag and set in the ice box over night.

To accompany the chicken, we have some tasty morsels. Heirloom tomato, diced, salted and peppered.

Avocado, diced, salted, peppered, lime juice.

Grilled corn, little olive oil, salt and pepper, cut off the cob after cooking.

Pollo Verde can work on a grill pan or in the broiler, but the best--flavor and technique is on the grill. I like to have a pile of hot coals to one side of the grill. Get the chicken nice and seared and starting to char, then I'll move it to a cooler side of the grill and let it finish cooking with the cover on the grill. The corn, I just move it around a few times until charred. When the chicken is almost done, I spoon some of the extra verde sauce on and allow that to get one final sear over the hot coals.

I like to serve Pollo Verde with a tortilla of some sort. I happened to have these sun-dried tomato wraps. They worked well. I tossed them on the grill for a few seconds on each side when the chicken was done.

I pile all the ingredients on my plate and make little 'tacos' with all the goodies. Corn, tomato, avocado, chicken and some sauce. Wrap it up and chow down.

And towards the end, I get bored with the tortilla and just start mashing everything together. Amazing! This particular time, the tomato and corn were fresh from the farms. Both were supremely sweet and the tomato was particularly juicy. The only thing missing from this amazing line-up was some diced jicama that I wanted to add for crunch. I grabbed one from the grocery store, but I realized when I was in the check out, that half of it was rotten. If I get jicama, I make a quick orange/cumin vinaigrette that I dress the jicama with. Add that to the pile and you're in heaven!

This is one of my signature dishes. It's amazing. Great flavors, great spice levels, fresh, satisfying. All just right.

Next time though, I'm going to try gilding the lily...and adding a splash or two of a dry, crisp white wine to the verde sauce and see how that goes. Something tells me I'll slip into a food coma if it works out, never to be heard of again. Beautiful flavors.


Anonymous said...

This sounds really fantastic. Maybe I'll try it with fish!

DancerInDC said...

It's just so delicious and I request it far too often.

Jessica - I do think this would work great on a sturdy whitefish. What's great about the sauce is that it works cold as well as hot, so even if you don't get much of it grilled it will taste good.