Friday, November 22, 2013

Pollo Relleno Mendocino (Argentinian-style Stuffed Chicken)

I took the plunge and de-boned my first chicken. It actually wasn’t as bad as I had dreaded, but it does take some patience (Jacques Pépin says you should be able to do it in ‘about a minute’ but he’s just pulling our collective leg). For the stuffing, I followed a recipe in Gran Cocina Latina from an Argentinian winemaker. Apparently the Argentinians love that retro flavor, so what we have here is a giant chicken cordon bleu. I screwed up by burning the skin – I had my oven set to a little hotter than the recipe calls for, and I didn’t keep an eye on it during cooking. The obvious solution is to keep the oven at 400 (what the recipe calls for) and peek in on the bird once or twice and rotate the tray or cover with foil if needed.

De-boning the chicken:
(1) 6 lb. Chicken

I’m not even going to try and explain this in words. I followed Jacques Pépin’s method, and you should to. Here’s a handy-dandy youtube video how-to.

1 onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, papery sleeve removed, but left whole
15 oz. water
Bay leaf
1 lemon
1 sprig rosemary
Fresh sage leaves
3 tbsp kosher salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
15 oz. ice

Sautee the onion and garlic in oil over medium/medium-low heat until the onion softens, 5 minutes or so. Add the water, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, salt and sugar. Stir to help incorporate the salt and sugar. Squeeze the lemon juice into the brine, then add the leftover lemon pieces. Bring to a boil, remove from heat.

Weigh out 15 oz. of ice in a large bowl, then pour in the brining liquid. Stir and allow ice to melt. Make sure the brine is room temperature (or cooler).

Pour brine into 1 gallon Ziploc bag and add deboned chicken. Allow to brine for 8 to 12 hours.

1 lb. ham, sliced thin
3/8 lb. Gouda cheese, sliced thin
3/8 lb. Edam cheese, sliced thin
1 jar of roasted red peppers (or roast 2 red bell peppers yourself)

Lay out the bird on an appropriate surface and layer on the stuffing ingredients. Make little roll-ups of ham, cheese and peppers and stuff them in the leg holes to help keep their shape. Close him up when he’s all stuffed, and follow Pepin’s instructions on how to truss the beast.

¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Lemon juice to taste

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Rub all over the skin of the chicken.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the bird in a roasting tray (I placed mine on a trivet of vegetables [carrot, onion, celery, rosemary]; this is great for making pan-sauce afterwards) and roast for 1.5 hours, or until the breasts reach 165°F. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


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