Baked Citrus Chicken: Peru Meets Mexico

This Baked Citrus Chicken recipe incorporates my mother's Mexican style of cooking, with lots of citrus and flavor, and my father's Peruvian technique of basically putting everything in one pot into the oven

Growing up in a household with roots in two cultures gave me the opportunity to enjoy a variety of foods, and to mix up two quite different culinary traditions. If there is one thing that our house was filled with, it was warmth in the form of comfort food. And now that cool weather is just around the corner, it's time to enjoy a favorite hybrid recipe. It incorporates my mother's Mexican style of cooking, with lots of citrus and flavor, and my father's Peruvian technique of basically putting everything in one pot into the oven.

The idea of this recipe came to me while traveling in Peru. I experienced my first pachamanca while visiting family in the high altitude villages 2 hours away from Lima. From the Quechua words meaning "of the earth" and "pot," pachamanca is form of cooking in which all ingredients go into a large hole in the earth lined with hot stones. This includes chicken, lamb, beef, guinea pigs, potatoes and what have you. Once all ingredients are placed inside, it's covered with more stones, and ultimately becomes a mound of dirt. Within a couple of hours, everything inside is cooked to a tender texture and wonderful flavors.

It's virtually impossible to recreate this here in the U.S., unless I start digging in the backyard. And even I tried, I'd need a good crew of people to help with the process. And I suppose they would all need to be Peruvian; anyone else would think I was crazy! A pachamanca is enjoyed with everyone sitting around the food and eating with their hands.

The Mexican side of this recipe comes in with the citrus, onions, garlic and wonderful depth of seasonings. So this recipe is my own medley of my roots. The wine ... well, that's 100 percent me!

Ideal side dishes to serve with this chicken are mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms.

Baked Citrus Chicken

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 60 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Baked Citrus Chicken Recipe Ingredients

    Whole chicken

    1 lime

    1 lemon

    1 orange

    3 garlic cloves, chopped in quarters

    1 whole onion

    2 serrano chilies, deveined and halved

    Chef Merito Seasoning (see note)

    1 bottle of white wine

    Dutch Oven

Baked Citrus Chicken Recipe Directions

    Begin by cleaning the chicken, removing the inners and patting it dry. Chop the fruit into eighths, coarsely chop the onions, half the garlic cloves, half and devein the serrano chilies, and then set these aside.

    Season the entire chicken, inside and out thoroughly. Make sure to leave nothing unseasoned. You can also separate the skin from the breast and season the inside of the chicken.

    NOTE: Chef Merito seasoning can be found at most grocery stores or Mexican markets. You can definitely substitute your own dry rub, but I found this seasoning to encompass such a wonderful blend of flavors that I did not need any additional seasonings.

    Once the chicken is seasoned, place it inside the Dutch oven and begin stuffing the cavity with your chopped ingredients. Make sure you get as much of the citrus inside the chicken, even if you have to press it down and release the citrus juices.

    Include the garlic, onions and halved serrano chilies. If there are chopped ingredients left over, go ahead and sprinkle them around the outside of the chicken inside the Dutch oven.

    Cover the Dutch oven with the lid, and store in refrigerator overnight. The next day, take out the chicken from the refrigerator about 2 hours before baking time to bring the chicken to room temperature. When it's ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Open the white wine bottle and fill the Dutch oven with the bottle of wine. Any white wine will do, except sweet/dessert wines. Make sure the liquid is at about 3/4 of the way up the pot.

    Cover with the lid, and place into the middle of the oven, and bake for 1 hour. This is when I begin to make my side dishes.

    When the chicken is done, remove from the oven. Before serving, remove all of the stuffing and excess ingredients so that you're left with the liquid and the chicken. Serve the chicken skinless and use the liquid in the pot as gravy for mashed potatoes.

    I always serve wine with this dish. It's hearty enough to pair with a Pinot Noir, or choose a complex white wine. Either way, you can't go wrong.

(Maylynn Morales lives and works in Los Angeles County, enjoys wine road trips, international travel, foodie outings, and is a classical pianist. One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love.)

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Baked Citrus Chicken - Peru Meets Mexico

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