Pollo en Qué-es-cabeche
I recently came across a recipe Mr. P had scribbled on a leaf of small notebook paper some time ago. While this is another example of the put-everything-in-the-pot-and-cook method that always sets me on edge, Mr. P knows his home cooking, so I called him at work to make sure that, “really, no water? just that much oil and vinegar?” (I should also mention that, while in the Spanish language, escabeche usually refers to pickled dishes, the Puerto Rican version calls for chicken cooked in a vinaigrette and olive oil sauce). With a go-ahead from the Protectorate, I executed the following instructions, transferred everything into a Tupperware container, and stuck it in the fridge for Mr. P’s dinner. I don’t go in for this kind of thing, myself.
Held up by a compelling appointment with a Mr. MC Frontalot in the city, Mr. P returned much too late for a meal, so the chicken marinated for another sixteen hours before making its debut earlier this evening. I still haven’t tried it, but according to the man, chicken was falling off the bone and leaping into his mouth. I have a feeling that “escabeche” is a love-or-flee flavor combination. Do you get really excited about vinaigrette dressing? How do you feel about a whole lot of oil-boiled peppers and onions? Does the aroma of the pickling process make you anxious? These are all questions you’ll want to answer before you get too invested.
2 lbs chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (one split breast did it for me)
1 lb storage/yellow onions, sliced into thin rings
1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 large or 8 small cloves garlic, whole
3/4 C olive oil
1/2 C vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
salt and pepper for rubbing
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. You want a big pot for this; I used a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting cover, but a large saucepan is fine, too. Set the pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. Once it’s hot, sear the chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side (all 3). Add the onions and peppers and mix them in, under the chicken, before adding all the other ingredients. Get the liquid to a boil before turning the heat down to medium, then cover the pot and let it cook for 40 minutes. Check in every 10 minutes or so and turn the chicken to prevent burning. After 40 minutes, remove the cover, and cut into the chicken to see if it’s done. If not, cook uncovered for 10 to 20 more minutes.
My chicken looked dry after the initial 40 minutes, and I was relieved when Mr. P reported succulence. So, you’ll want to immediately transfer everything from the pot into a plastic container and stick it in the fridge overnight. Oh, did you not want to start tomorrow’s dinner this morning? Also, this should be served with the elusive Puerto Rican white rice, so make sure you’re self-confidence tank is full before taking it on.