This chicken recipe is well known in the Yucatan area of Mexico and if you have taken a vacation in the Yucatan you might have tasted it before. The recipe is quite simple and you need to marinate the chicken in the garlic and chili-infused bitter orange juice and then wrap it in a banana leaf with tomatoes, onions, and epazote for baking and steaming. If you cannot get bitter orange, you can use equal parts of fresh orange juice and lemon juice instead.
What Is Epazote?
Epazote, which is also knows as pigweed, wormseed, Mexican tea, hedge mustard, Jerusalem parsley, pazote and West Indian goosefoot, is a strong-flavored herb and it adds a great flavor to pollo pibil. It has featured in a number of recipes throughout Mexican food history and it dates back to the Aztec times. The Aztecs used it for both cooking and medical purposes.
This herb is poisonous in large quantities but it is beneficial in small quantities because it helps to relieve the gassiness you can get from eating beans. A lot of famous Mexican recipes contain beans. It is often added to animal feed because it helps to prevent worms.
Epazote has a distinctive flavor which has been likened to perfume or gasoline. It is used to season various traditional Mexican recipes like salads, quesadillas, soups, and bean dishes. Older epazote leaves have the strongest flavor so use those sparingly. Younger ones have a milder taste which is also richer. Buy it from Hispanic food stores or Latin markets. You can get the dried version of this herb online and these work well in pollo pibil too.
This herb grows wild in Mexico and South America. It also grows in some parts of the United States. It prefers tropical and sub-tropical conditions and the plant can reach a height of more than two feet. You cannot replace the flavor of epazote by substituting other herbs. If you cannot find it, just leave it out of the recipe but use more of the other seasonings to balance out its loss.
What You Need:
- 2 small banana leaves or 1 big one
- 1 sliced yellow onion
- 8 pieces chicken
- 4 sliced tomatoes
- Juice from 4 bitter oranges
- 2 tablespoons red chili paste
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 epazote sprig
- Fresh chopped onion, tomatoes, and chilies, to serve
How To Make It:
Combine the orange juice, salt, garlic and chili paste. Marinate the poultry in this mixture for two hours, piercing it with a fork beforehand so the marinade can really sink in and make the meat moist.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the chicken on the banana leaf and top it with the onions, tomatoes, and epazote. Dot the butter on top, then wrap the banana leaf over the chicken and tuck it underneath so it stays closed. Alternatively you can use oven-safe string to tie it up.
Put the wrapped poultry on the uppermost rack in the oven over a big oven-safe bowl half-filled with water. Let the chicken steam for an hour or an hour and a half, depending how big the chicken pieces are. Take the chicken out of the leaf and serve it with fresh onion, tomato, and chilies.
Christine Szalay-Kudra is an author, food expert and mom of four boys. She is the owner of the Recipe Publishing Network, a group of sites dedicated to fine food and information for cooks. When not busy with her business you can find her sharing on one of these social networks at her own URL: http://www.recipepublishingnetwork.org/
Article Source: EzineArticles.com