Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pollo Al Mojo de Ajo (Cuban Garlic Chicken)

Pollo Al Mojo de Ajo is a very popular Cuban dish, especially in Cuban restaurants. It is a garlic citrus flavored roast chicken. In my house it is simply strongly flavored with garlic, lime, salt, and olive oil. Trust me that is it nothing more nothing less, but I guarantee you it is extremely flavorful yet one of the most simple dishes to make. Of course you can easily substitute the "fresh lime juice" for "Seville Oranges" also called "Bitter Oranges" and in Spanish "Naranja Agria" but it is very hard for me to get bitter oranges here I only have one friend who grows it in her yard but she and her family are a long drive away.

Also in my house we also make the "Lechon" roasted big, which is a huge deal to Cubans it is the favorite dish, which is usually made at party's they can make it in a machine called "La Caja China" (Chinese box) or it is buried in a pit enclosed in banana leaves covered with something and cooked slowly with fire (I'm not sure exactly how the buried version is.) this is usually made for large gatherings...

But in the house for just a small amount of people usually a 4-6 pound Pork Butt/ Pork Shoulder or roast is roasted in the oven seasoned the same way as the chicken, and again with the pork it is BEST to use "Naranja Agria" bitter orange, sometimes she will add a little "oregano" to it or "oregano", "pepper", and "cumin" in addition to the salt, but those are not necessary.

-3-4 pounds whole chicken
-1 large garlic head (about 12 cloves) if using a smaller head use 2 heads of garlic (I used 2 heads which was about 14 small cloves it tastes so good)
-Juice of 4 limes or more up to 6 depends
-1-2 heaping teaspoons salt
-2 -3 tablespoon or 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

(1)Mash garlic to a paste in a mortar with a pestle along with salt or use a garlic press, you have to have the garlic really mashed.
Add freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, and whisk in olive oil with a fork, set aside.
(3)Cut chicken in segments, or in half, or simply leave whole (I simply cut it in half). Rinse the chicken several times, clean well, remove any small feathers it may have, the insides and clean insides really well and scrub of blood.
(4)Now stab the chicken making small piercing stab some small slits all over, make space in between the meat and skin. Smother the chicken with the garlic lime mixture and rub some inside, spoon liquids into the skin.
(5)Put in a zip lock bag, shake well, take all air out and seal well, now put in a bowl and let it marinade in the refrigerater for about 24 hours which is best but if you are more in hurry than marinade for about 12 hours at minimum.
(6)Preheat oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius (for my readers outside USA). Put chicken in a oven pan, with all marinade juices, put in oven and bake for about 50-70 minutes spoon over it's juices every 20 minutes until your ready to take out.
(7)Serve with some fluffy rice and spoon some of the juices over, with a side of maybe some black beans and fried sweet plantains or "Tostones" (twice fried green thick green plantain chips I'll show you guys how to make those some other time)