I have always enjoyed PBS programs, and a while back I found Rick Bayless‘ show One Plate at a Time. Chef Bayless is known for making traditional Mexican food, and not screwing it up. Most of the “Mexican food” that we actually eat around here, and probably near you is Tex-Mex. Not that there is anything wrong with that, at all! It is just that Mexican food is a lot more diverse than you typically get to see.
Amy and I were looking for something to have for dinner, and I grabbed One Plate at a Time. As I flipped through my eye caught Red Chile Marinated Chicken with potatoes. This sounds like my kind of food. Looking through the ingredients there were only a couple of things we didn’t have. Amy and I went to the store and picked up a couple of things, and we were ready to go.
The chicken is going to get a ton of flavor from a marinade that uses chiles and a few spices. Really this is very simple. How much simpler can it get than roasted chicken and potatoes? The marinade is going to take this beyond a plain roasted chicken though.
3 oz dried ancho chiles stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 3 1/2 pound chicken
10 small red skinned potatoes, washed and halved
First, heat vegetable oil in a skillet and add the chile pieces, and lightly toast them. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was a little over excited and skipped the toasting. It was still fantastic, but it would have been better if I had done it.) Then place them in a bowl with two cups of water to rehydrate them for about 20 minutes. You might need to put a small plate on top of them to keep them from floating.
Place the chiles(and the water, there is lots of flavor in that!), garlic, spices, sugar, salt (to taste maybe a teaspoon), and vinegar in the blender. Puree until smooth. Set this aside.
Now for the fun part! Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? I have, once, but I will do it again! Spatchcocking a bird refers to flattening the bird out by removing the spine and breaking the keel bone. To do this you will need a pair of kitchen sheers. A paring knife might also come in handy. Place the bird breast down on a cutting board, and using your sheers, cut along one side of the backbone. Then do the same thing all the way up the other side. I found it easer to start at the larger opening in the chicken. Once the spine is out, carefully open up the body. Turn the chicken skin side up.The next thing that you need to do is to break the keel bone from the ribs. The easiest way to do that is to just make a fist and smack the center of the breast. You may have to hit it several times. You’ll know when it breaks. The breast will be a lot more flexible.
Put the bird into a plastic bag or bowl and pour about half the marinade over the bird. You want to cover the inside and outside. Leave it in the fridge like this for at least an hour, and overnight would be great.
Preheat your oven to 375F. You want to tuck the legs back so that everything cooks evenly. Cut a slit in the skin between the thigh, and the breast, and tuck the end of the leg into the hole. I also tucked the wing tips under the thighs. (You can see this in the picture below.) Place the bird skin side up in your roaster. Toss the potato halves in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and arrange them around the chicken. Pour 1/3 of a cup of water in the roaster, but not on the chicken. Cover the pan. Our roaster has a lid so we used that, but foil will also work. Put the chicken in the oven. Every 15 minutes or so you are going to take the cover off, and stir the potatoes. This will help them cook evenly, and also get them coated with the chicken juices and adobo that you rubbed all over the chicken. Your total time will depend on a number of factors, but you will probably be looking at roughly an hour, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. You should use your instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. You’ll be looking for 160F.Once your chicken is at 160F, get the leftover marinade, and spoon some of it over the chicken, and potatoes. This will act as a bit of a glaze. Put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so, but leave it uncovered.Now we are to the hard part. Take the bird out of the roaster, and put it on a cutting board, and cover it with foil. Don’t touch it for about 10 minutes.
Did you make it? Cut the bird between the breast halves, and between the breast and thighs, and serve.