This dish is a holiday tradition for our family every year for our Christmas dinner. The adobo rub is full of warm spices and it is great on turkey, too. I remember my grandma used to make it, then my mom made it, and now I make it for my family.
This recipe is an extract from Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral (Abrams, £30). Photographs copyright © 2019 Quentin Bacon
Ingredients for pollo en barbacoa Serves: 5
- 10 guajillo chiles (50 g), stems and seeds removed
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled
- 50 g chopped white onion
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 sliver of a cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 180 g chopped tomatoes
- 50 g tomatillos, husked and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 whole chicken (about 2 pounds/1 kg), butchered into eight pieces, trimmed of excess fat and skin
- 10 avocado leaves
Method for pollo en barbacoa
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Bring 4½ cups (1 L) water to a boil in a medium pot and add the chiles. Turn off the heat and let soak for 20 minutes or until chiles are softened.
- In a comal or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast each of the following ingredients separately for 5 to 7 minutes until evenly toasted: garlic, onion, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and oregano. In a molcajete or mini-chopper or food processor, grind the garlic, onion, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and oregano as best as you can until finely ground.
- In a small pot over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, tomatillos, and ¼ cup (60 ml) water. Boil for 25 minutes or until the tomatillos start to pop. In a blender, combine the softened chiles, cooked tomatoes and tomatillos, the ground onion, garlic, and spices, and the salt. Blend until completely smooth.
- Put the chicken in a 5-quart (4.7 L) Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and add the spiced chile mixture from the blender, and avocado leaves. Mix well, cover, and cook in the oven for an hour. The chicken should be fall-apart tender and the sauce should be the texture of a pan sauce. If the chicken still isn’t tender, cover and cook for another 20 minutes.