Pollo Panamá

Panam├í, being the proverbial melting pot, has an incredibly abundant Chinese presence. You can’t walk more than a few yards before stumbling into a Chinese restaurant or a corner tienda, a little neighborhood store where you can buy everything from fresh bread to pigs feet and a hammer. That means Chinese food has been influenced by the local’s taste buds and available produce. Chinese food in Panama is completely different from Chinese food in Houston and Houston’s is nothing like Chinese food in NYC. Adaptability. I often wonder if I would enjoy Chinese food in China. But I digress.

I’ve shared with you a recipe for roast┬áchicken┬ávery popular in Latin America. This is pretty much the same thing with┬áa few changes and the addition of┬áthis ketchupy┬ásauce added to chicken in Panam├í. I don’t know what it is about this simple sauce, but it would probably fall under the Chino-Latino category. Almost every Chinese restaurant in Panama will offer some version of this rotisserie chicken and BBQ pork, which is absolutely divine.

The chicken is seasoned pretty much the same, then┬ároasted to golden perfection and served with the yummy sauce all over it. To ensure┬áthe chicken is super juicy, I brined it for just over an hour, ideally, I would’ve allowed it to brine longer, but it was still delicious. It occurs to me that this would also work brilliantly with turkey, I┬á may just give it a try. Here’s what you’re looking for.

Pollo Panamá

1 whole chicken, approx 4-6 lbs

For the brine:
2 Saz├│n packets
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp sugar

Chino-Latino Ketchup
1/2 cp ketchup
1-1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sugar
1/4 cp water
Habanero hot sauce, to taste
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken: Heat about 1/2 cp of water and add the garlic, salt, Italian seasoning  and sugar for the brine, allow it to come to a quick boil, then turn off and transfer to a bowl large enough to submerge the chicken. Or you can use a large ziploc bag. Give it just a couple of minutes to cool, then add the rest of the brine ingredients.

In the meantime, remove the giblets from the chicken’s cavity and rinse the chicken under cool water. Drain and place the chicken in the bowl with the brine concentrate and fill the bowl with enough water to submerge the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate in the brine for about an hour, longer if you have the time.

Preheat oven to 350┬░. Prepare a roasting pan and rack large enough to hold the chicken. Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Rub it with extra virgin olive oil and place on the rack breast side down. I prefer to roast whole chickens and turkeys with the breast down to make sure it is juicy, since breast isn’t my favorite meat. If you’d rather have pretty skin on the breast, then roast it breast side up. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and allow it to roast for about 20 minutes per pound, for a 5-pounder, you’re looking at just under 2 hours.

Note: I will usually roast the chicken or turkey at 375° for about 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° for the remainder of the roasting time, but I was being very lazy with this chickie. You know what? It was still perfect!

Once the internal temperature reads somewhere around 180┬░-185┬░, remove the chicken from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow it to rest to allow the juices to redistribute and make Ms. Chickie very happy. This is a good time to put the sauce together if you haven’t already.

In a small saucepan, heat a bit of olive oil and add the garlic halves allowing them to permeate the oil for a minute or two. Add the rest of the ingredients, tasting it after the first teaspoon of sugar, this should be to your taste. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, but the soy should take care of it. Bring it to a slow simmer for 5 minutes or so, keep it warm and spoon over the chicken to plate.

Check out the photo set for more juicy shots.

Cookingly yours,

Got beef? Roasts & Filets

Here it is. The last recipe for the 24, 24, 24 dinner I had in February. A lot of really good dishes, a lot of really good food, a lot of pictures and typing! This last one is pretty simple and super delicious too.

This was for the Western region: Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Cowboys and rodeos, baby. Originally, foods were prepared directly over open fires, or in a Dutch oven. Today’s chefs have taken the region’s traditions and fused them into a satisfying cuisine that utilizes game, freshwater fish, grass-fed beef and bison.

I found an interesting recipe by Jeremiah Water, another pioneer of California cuisine. I know this wasn’t for California, but this dish sounded appropriate. Vodka Marinated Rib Roast. How could I pass on that? Vodka & beef?! Shush yo’ mouth!

Then, problems. I couldn’t find rib roast, the closest I came was a sirloin roast. I ordered 2 lbs of it and the piece of meat, though beautiful, didn’t seem large enough. Because of this, I ended not using the roast for the party and sub’ing it with filets. I still marinated them in vodka, of course. So, you get a 2-fer here, how-tos for the filet and roast.

Vodka Marinated Filet Mignon
Serves 4

4 tenderloin filets, trimmed
4 slices bacon, thick cut
1/4 cp vodka
1 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Wrap each filet with one slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. In a shallow bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and dip the filets in this slurry.

Make sure to coat all sides and allow it to marinate in fridge for at least 20 minutes, but no more than 2 hours.

Heat a skillet until smokey, add a bit of olive oil and sear the filets. Depending on how done you’d like it, sear for 3 or so minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. For the meal, we served these with an awesome Potato Chive┬áTart.

And since I already had this beautiful roast…┬á

Vodka Marinated Roast
Serves 4-6

2-3 lb sirloin roast
5 bay leaves
1/2 cp vodka
1-1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper

Using a sharp knife, make shallow slits in the fat and insert the bay leaves. I cut the leaves into small sections that made sliding them easier.

Combine the rest of the ingredients and rub it all over the roast. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325┬░. Heat a skillet until smokey and sear the roast on all sides.

Transfer to your roasting pan (I used the same skillet, just added a roasting rack), insert an oven-safe meat thermometer and roast until it reaches 140° for rare to 160° f0r medium.

Transfer the roast to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes.

Carve the roast into thick slices and transfer to plates. Pour any carving juices over the meat and serve at once.

Yeah. I know.

You can use the same basic marinade for any cut of beef you like.

Cookingly yours,

Mi Pollo Loco

When I lived in Panama, there was this little shack that sold THE best rotisserie chicken in the world. It was flavorful and juicy and toasty and moist. It was delicious, but I guess I don’t have to say that.

After living in the US for 20 or so years, I’ve noticed this ‘style’ of chicken keeps popping up. There’s a place called Dodo’s Chicken here in Houston and theirs is pretty good. Most curiously, though, I’ve noticed references to this type of chicken on TV shows. Do you watch Flipping Out? Jeff LOVES Pollo Loco!

I’m betting you will love too, so get ready to have your chicken world rocked.

Pollo a la Pollo Loco
1-5lbs chicken, whole
2 pkts Saz├│n
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 oz beer, in can
2 garlic cloves, whole

Remove the innards from the bird and rinse it under cool water. Drain. In a small container, mix the next 5 ingredients into a paste and rub it over the chicken. Make sure to rub the inside as well as all the skin with the paste. Allow it to sit for at least an hour or longer, if possible–even overnight.

Preheat oven to 400┬░. Open the beer and drop the 2 cloves of garlic in it. Stand the can on a roasting pan, then place the chicken over it. You will be inserting the can through the bottom hole of the chicken. Push it in as far as it will go, usually all the way to the top of of the chicken.

Now place the chicken in the oven and allow it to bake at this temperature for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature’s to 350┬░ and continue roastig the chicken for about 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature reads 185┬░. Generally, it takes 20 minutes to roast1 lb of raw chicken. Remove the chicken from the oven┬á and cover with foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Gently remove it from the can and carve. Enjoy deliciously moist chicken! Here it was served with yellow rice and lentils.

Cookingly yours, Anamaris

Turkey #2 – D-Day Turkey

This is how I make turkey every year, or rather, every time I’ve made turkey in the past. This is my true and tested method for a deliciously moist bird without fail. No basting, no fussing. The only fussing I do, takes place a day or so before T-Day. Just long enough to allow the bird to swim about in the briney water, relaxing in all the spices and seasonings I chose for that ocassion.

Then on the day it is to be served, I just lay it breast-side down on a roasting pan, brush it with butter and olive oil and forget about it until it needs to come out of the oven. It is always successful and enjoyed by all. You should try it this way, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I’m not cooking this one until tomorrow (Thursday), but I wanted to give you a play by play in case you were searching for an easy way to prepare your bird. I will update the pictures as things evolve.

Turkey Brine (1-2 days before serving)
In a saucepan, combine:
6 tbsp sea salt
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp sage, powder
3 tbsp Herbs d’Provence
6 cloves garlic
5 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 orange, quartered
3 cps water
Bring this to a boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool down.

The turkey I’m working with is a 20-pounder. Remove giblet bag and neck, reserve these to make broth and gravy. Rinse the turkey under cool running water. In an oversized storage bag or a bowl, add the cooled brine, place the turkey in and top it off with more water–about 1-1/2 gallons of cool water. Give the turkey a couple of turns in the bag to ensure the water and brine mix in. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap then foil paper.

Put the whole thing in the fridge overnight. Usually I start this process 1-1/2 days before I am roasting the bird and I flip the bird every 8-10 hours or so, if it’s not completely submerged in the brining liquid.


Roasting Day
Remove turkey from the bag and drain any brining liquid that may be in the openings. Pat dry the turkey. Melt 1/2 cp butter (1 stick) with 1/4 cp extra virgin olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic (peel and cut them in half). Brush this mixture (avoiding the garlic) over the breast side of the turkey. Put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then flip the bird so the thighs are on top and brush with the rest of the butter. Place it in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400┬░. Coarsely chop:
2 oranges
2 carrots
1/2 cp parsley
4 cloves garlic
5 cloves
and mix in:
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
Use 1/2 of this mixture to loosely stuff the large cavity of the bird and arrange the other 1/2 under and around the turkey. Put the bird in the oven for 20 minutes at 400°,  then lower the temperature to 325° for the remainder of its cooking time.

Once the thermometer reads about 170°  in the thickest part of the thigh, remove it from the oven and cover it loosely with foil. Allow it to rest covered for about 15 minutes. Remove the aromatics from the crevices before you begin carving it.

I feel a bit silly to have to say this. I totally forgot to take a shot of the bird as it came out of the oven. And boy do I hate that, because it was a BEAUTY. Perfectly cooked, super juicy┬áand golden brown. Will you take my word for it? Here’s a shot of it after slicing.