a las Brasas, Estilo Sinaloense
(recipe from Authentic Mexican, Rick Bayless,
Morrow © 1987 )
The smoky Places are set up at crossroads or scattered around Sinaloan
towns, with their bricked-in troughs for embers and their split chickens,
searing and charring two feet above the fire. If there's a place to sit,
it's usually folding chair's and tables; but what more is necessary for
a wonderful picnic of polo a las brasas (literally "chicken over the embers"),
Charcoal-Grilled Baby Onions ( page 277), Salsa Mexicana (page 35) and
steaming corn tortillas?
You might want to add Charro Beans (page 270), Grilled Roasted Corn (page
272) or Zucchini with Roasted Peppers, Corn and Cream (page 273). Picadillo
Turnovers (page 150) would be good informal appetizer, Mexican Chocolate
Ice Cream (page 300) with a drizzle of kahlua could be dessert. To drink:
Mexican Sangria (page 322) or beer. This recipe, with it's mild, garlicky
marinade, is based on one that appeared in Gastrotur magazine.
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings
- 2 medium,
whole chickens (3-1/2 pounds each)
the chicken for grilling: Using a large Knife or Kitchen shears, cut down
both sides of backbone of 1 chicken, through the joints where the legs
attach, then on through the ribs; remove the backbone. Open the chicken
out flat on your cutting board, skin-side up, press on the breastbone
to loosen it so the chicken will lie flat. For the nicest presentation,
make a small incision through the skin toward the bottom of each thigh
and press end of the nearest drumstick through it; this will hold the
leg in place as the chicken is grilled. Repeat with the second chicken,
then lay them in a noncorrosive bowl.
- 1 small
onion, roughly chopped
- 8 cloves
garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
cups freshly squeezed orange juice
teaspoon each dried thyme, marjoram and oregano
- 4 bay
- A generous
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2. Marinating the chickens. Puree all the marinade ingredients in a blender
or food processor. Pour the mixture over the chickens and rub them to
coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or, preferably,
overnight), turning the chickens several times.
3. Grilling and serving the chickens. About 1-1/4 hours before serving,
light your charcoal fire, let it burn until coals are only medium-hot,
then position the grill about 8 inches above the coals and lightly oil
it. Lay the chickens on the grill, skin side up, and grill for 35 to 45
minutes, turning every 10 minutes and basting with any leftover marinade.
They are ready when tender, and when a fork pricked deep into the thigh
brings up clear (not pink) juices. (During the final 10 minutes of cooking,
grill the onions, as described on page 277-charcoal-Grilled Baby Onions-if
you are using them.) Cut the chickens into quarters, lay them on a warm
platter and serve.
Timing and Advance Preparation Spend 1/2 hour preparing the chicken
and marinade at least 4 hours ahead; it will take 1-1/4 hours to finish
the dish, a good part of it spent waiting on the fire and the chicken.
The chicken may marinate for a couple of days, but its texture will be
best when grilled just before serving.
Traditional Variations Grilled Chicken with Another Flavor: Prepare
the recipe as directed, using the following marinade: pulverize 1/4 teaspoons
coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns, 1/2-inch cinnamon stick,
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves and 1 bay leaf, then mix with 1 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 cup vinegar and 4 roasted
cloves of garlic (peeled and mashed to a paste).
Contemporary Ideas Cornish Game Hens a las Brasas: Substitute 3
or 4 game hens for the chickens: split and marinate them as directed,
then grill them for 25 to 30 minutes.