I had the privilege of spending a little over a week in Loreto, Mexico over the Christmas holiday. If you aren’t familiar with Loreto (and most aren’t) it’s located in Baja California Sur on the Sea of Cortes. It was great to spend some quality time with the family and lay by the pool in sunny Mexico. If you want to be a little jealous, here’s a pic of our view:
Anyways, enough bragging. The reason I bring all this up is I was struck by a wave of inspiration while I was down there: why not make a Mexican inspired dish to share with my readers? I enjoy some spice and strong, bold flavors – two things Mexican cuisine is known for. So with that in mind I went out and got a whole chicken, some poblano peppers and a bunch of fresh herbs grown locally. Let’s take a walk down pollo (see what I did there?) lane and get to cooking.
Roasting Poblano Peppers
To me, nothing screams “Mexican Food” than peppers, specifically those that are roasted over a fire. We went out to a local farmer’s market and picked up a few peppers to stuff in our chicken. Don’t believe me? Well, here they are.
The first step in this process is roasting the peppers. What I mean by this is get a nice, good char over the entire pepper. Afterwards, we’ll stash the peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow them to cool for about 30 minutes or until you can handle them without looking like you are playing “hot potato”.
Herbs & Spices
Now that our poblanos are cooling, let’s chop up some fresh herbs and get the rest of our seasonings ready for your unsuspecting chicken. At this point, you might as well go ahead and turn on your oven to 450°.
With the herb mixture made, let’s turn our attention back to our cooled poblano peppers.
Now that all our our seasonings are ready, it’s time to get them acquainted with our bird. Take your poblano peppers and stuff it in between the breast and skin on the chicken. If you have extras, add them to your herb mix.
One Roasted Bird, Please
Stash your chicken in the oven and set your timer for 60 minutes. More than likely, your chicken won’t be done at this point, but it’s a lot easier to cook longer than reverse time and undo an overdone chicken. If you remember back from my post on food safety, you are wanting at least 165° on the coldest part of your bird – make sure to take readings from a few different areas including the breast, wings and thighs. Due to carryover heat, you’ll want to remove it from the oven when the temperature hits somewhere around 160° and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting up.
Lessons Learned: Or What I’d Do Differently Next Time
This chicken turned out pretty nicely, but I’d definitely do a things a little differently next time. First off, make sure you preheat your oven way ahead of time. When that little alarm sounds letting you know your oven is preheated, most people (myself included this time) go ahead, open up the oven and stash your food in there. The problem with that though is it lets all of the hot air out into the kitchen resulting in an oven that is 50 – 75° lower than what you need. A better course of action is to preheat your oven 45 minutes ahead of time so that the heat has a chance to get into the metal of the oven which will give it a better ability to retain heat after the door has been opened. In addition, I would have taken some lemons, limes and garlic and filled up the chicken cavity to give it a bit more flavor. Finally, instead of adding the salt and pepper to the herb mixture, I would have liberally used salt and pepper over the entire surface of the bird before rubbing the herb paste on it as I think this would result in a better adherence. Overall, this gets a solid B from me and with a few tweaks I think it’s an easy A.
Actually, I learned another lesson from this dish. When you buy a whole chicken in Mexico, you are getting the WHOLE chicken. Our chicken had the gizzards, liver, kidneys and feet stuffed inside its cavity. Not to mention the neck was still completely attached to the body. Eek! I ended up discarding these items but to the braver folks out there – feel free to cook those up and/or use it for chicken stock – I’m sure it’s delicious (to some).
- Whole Chicken (5-6 pounds)
- 4 Poblano Peppers
- Olive Oil
- Char the Poblano Peppers
- Stash peppers in a bowl and cover for 30
- Preheat the oven to 450°
- Cut up fresh herbs
- Remove the skin, ribs and seeds from the peppers
- Cut peppers up into small pieces
- Stuff the peppers between the skin and chicken breast
- Salt and Pepper the entire chicken (top, bottom, sides and inside)
- Rub herb mixture over the entire chicken (but not the inside)
- Add any additional peppers to the surface of the chicken
- Put chicken into oven for 60 minutes
- Check temperature and cook until done
- Rest for 10 minutes before cutting up and serving
I’d Cook That (again)! How about you?