i never know just how many tamales i’m going to make every November, so there is always at least one full sack of dried ancho chili pods laying around in my pantry. at any given time i eye them thinking “i really should do something with those” and then promptly forget about them. if i were a smart girl, i’d have realized you can make a wicked awesome sauce to smear on meats to roast/grill them. so yeah, thank allah for rick bayless, huh. his recipe for “adobo,” a sharp, perfectly yummy ancho chili based sauce went superbly well on a couple huge chicken leg quarters for Sunday night’s dinner. roasted with some halved red potatoes (from the garden) and you’ve got an awesome spicy version of Sunday’s chicken and potatoes.
Pollo Adobado con Papas
recipe adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless
2 chicken leg quarters
a few small to medium dried ancho chili pods
couple glugs of cider vinegar
garlic clove, peeled
dried mexican oregano
pinch of sugar
red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
thinly sliced white onion
watercress for garnish
heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet using tongs, place the chili pods in the oil and let them toast up, a few seconds on each side, until they puff up and are blistery and toasty smelling. put these in a bowl and cover with some hot tap water (like a cup or so, maybe a little more than that). set a small plate on top of the bowl and let these soften up for about 30 minutes. combine, in a blender, the oregano, salt, pepper, garlic clove, sugar, cumin and the cider vinegar. add the reconstituted peppers with their liquid. cover the blender and process this until it’s smooth. pour this into a strainer set over another bowl to separate the liquid you want from the skin, seeds, etc. the resulting liquid should be fairly thin. rick describes it as “steak sauce-ish” in texture. taste it for salt. add it if you think it needs it. heat your oven to 375. salt and pepper the chicken leg quarters and place in a roasting pan. smear some of the adobo on the chicken (leave a little bit leftover in the bowl for putting more on the chicken later). toss your potatoes with some oil and scatter these around the chicken. salt them a little bit. put foil over the pan and pop it in the oven. cook this for about 1 1/4-1/2 hours, stirring the potatoes every so often, until the chicken is done (test this by pricking a fork in and look for clear juices, or use your meat thermometer). uncover the pan. smear a little more of the leftover marinade on the chicken and set the pan back in. cook the chicken another 20 minutes or so, until the potatoes have browned a little and the glaze is set on the chicken. combine your sliced onions with a tablespoon or so of cider vinegar. serve the chicken with the onions and some watercress as garnish.
cooking music: lila downs, of course
a note: the leftover adobo, provided you didn’t double dip with the smearing apparatus thereby getting raw chicken into the leftover sauce, can be saved and frozen for a couple of months, apparently.