Despite the fairly high number of Asian dishes on this site, Mexican food is by far my favorite cuisine. I love it all. The seasoned meat, tortillas, fresh flour ones topped with butter and hot sauce or crispy corn pieces pilled high with salsa, oh, and salsa! I could eat salsa by the buckets. I have a theory that Hubster’s parents liked me initially because I would put down copious amounts of their homemade salsa and gladly take jars home. Food = Love in that family. (I fit right in.) Oh and cheese. Let’s not forget the cheese. Heck, sometimes, let’s just eat cheese.
I think I blacked out for a minute. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, my infatuation with Mexican food.
Thanks to the wormhole we lovingly call the Internet, I found this recipe for chicken with escabeche sauce. A Pinterest recipe that didn’t seem quite right led to a Google search, which led to Rick Bayless, one of my favorite pseudo celebrity chefs who specializes in authentic Mexican fare. Though I had no idea what escabeche sauce tasted like, I knew it had spices and vinegar. Oh, vinegar you get me every time.
I almost skipped roasting the garlic… but Rick is a Master and I’m in no place to question his expertise. So I roasted garlic, broiled peppers, mashed up a seasoning paste, pickled shallots (my only rif thanks to my negligence at picking up a red onion at the store) and grilled chicken. This recipe is not for a weeknight… or a weekend where you don’t have time to roast garlic. This recipe IS heaven. Flavor, heat and… no cheese… It’s not needed. This clean meal is ideal for those times when you have to have Mexican but don’t want to see the scale tick up one more notch. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. Your mouth will be sending out plenty of happy signals thanks to the punch of vinegar, warm poblanos and perfectly cooked chicken. Grab a piece of everything and you’ll have a near perfect (albeit cheese-less) bite.
Grilled Chicken with Escabeche Sauce
Modified ever so slightly from Rick Bayless
1 cup water
1 large shallot
3/4 tsp salt
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 – 3 boneless chicken breasts
2 poblano peppers
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Juice the lime to get 2 tablespoons of juice. Bring the water to a boil. Thinly slice the shallots into rings. Place in heat proof bowl. Pour the water over the onions and count to ten. Drain the onions and season with salt and lime juice. Refrigerate.
Preheat the broiler and clean the poblanos. Cut in half and place on a baking sheet, pressing to flatten. Broil until the skin is black. Enclose the pieces in a plastic storage container and let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and roast for about 15 minutes, turning frequently, until blacked outside in spots. Cool and then remove the skin.
Place the black pepper, allspice, cloves, cumin and oregano into a mortar and pulverize thoroughly. Add the peeled garlic, vinegar and salt. Pound into a paste.
Spread half of the spice paste over the chicken breasts. Remove the skin from the roasted poblanos and slice into 1/4″ slices. Slice the onion into 1/4″ slices. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and heat a skillet over medium heat. Grill the chicken, loosely covered with foil, until done (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, add the oil to the skillet and cook the onions and poblano strips until onions begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining spice paste, chicken broth, vinegar and salt. Simmer over medium low heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
Divide the escabeche among two plates and top with a chicken breast. Spoon liquid over the chicken and top with picked shallots and chopped cilantro.