This, my friends, is the best recipe for chicken in the history of time. I cannot claim that I invented this recipe, but I can tell you that I make it differently than my mother, and if I may say, without even the slightest hint of disrespect, I make it better. This past weekend I made it again, and it was the absolutely best version I've ever made. I used 6 very large boneless skinless breasts to make it, which is more than the original recipe calls for. I'm going to reduce this weekend's recipe version so that it becomes something a bit more manageable. I also paired this with roasted Brussels Sprouts, and my famous Hush Puppies.
But seriously, this chicken is to die for! Hat tip to Gloria Lever (the original recipe holder), my mom Vickie, and the Our Lady of Mercy "Mercy Morsels" parish cookbook circa 1993.
Note: I usually serve this with my SUPER SECRET recipe for cuban beans that I got from mama Conchita in Havana, Cuba when I traveled there for the first time in 2012.
Pollo a la Criolla with Quinoa
PREP TIME: 15 Minutes
MARINATE TIME: 1 hour to 24 hours
COOK TIME: 15-20 Minutes
4 Boneless, Skinless Breasts Chicken
1 large orange (freshly juiced)
3 large lemons (freshly juiced)
5 Fresh Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Ground Oregano
1 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp of Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Onion (White)
1 cup Quinoa
1 3/4 cup Water
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Large Mixing Bowl
Lemon Squeezer or Citrus Press
Medium Saucepan with lid
DIRECTIONS Juice the orange and lemons, and set aside. Slice the onion making 1/2-inch thick rings. Once sliced, separate the middle 1/4 of onion rings by pushing them out. These are awkward parts any way. Place these odd bits of onion in a blender. Take three of the whole peeled garlic cloves and toss those into the blender as well. Pour all of the citrus juice, and about three-quarters of the olive oil in the blender. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper, 2 tsp of Kosher salt, cayenne, ground oregano, and cumin to the blender. Throw that sucker on puree and let it rip until all ingredients are fully mixed. (This can also be done in a 4-cup pyrex with a stick blender.) Set aside.
Cut the breasts in half giving you two broad chunks of roughly equal size. Don’t cut them lengthwise; you aren’t making chicken tenders. Plop them in large mixing bowl, adding the onion rings. Pour the contents of the blender over the chicken, tossing a few times to ensure the breasts are fully coated. (If you are making within a few hours, and the chicken is fresh, I would marinate covered on the counter in the kitchen for 4-6 hours. Nothing’s going to happen to the chicken in that time, and it will make a difference for marinade penetration, as well as for the cooking time. If you do refrigerate, let the chicken out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before you plan to cook.)
Pour the remaining olive oil in the large skillet, and heat it on Medium-High heat until the oil runs fast when you tilt it. Before it starts smoking. Brown the chicken on both sides, making sure they are well-browned, even slightly blackened. In a clean bowl or large plate, set the browned breasts aside to remove from heat. Pour all the remaining juices and onion rings into the skillet to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the burnt bits into the sauce, and “clean” the pan. Reduce heat if needed. Cook until the onions are starting to just turn translucent. Add the chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes or so until the meat is cooked through. If you’re not sure, split the thickest breast in half to check for doneness. It shouldn’t look the least bit dry. If so, remove immediately. Otherwise, turn the heat off and prepare to serve your tasty tasty chickens.
As for the Quinoa… You can make this at any point before starting or while you are cooking the chicken. Treat like rice. In the medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and parsley, and quinoa. Bring to a rolling boil for about 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for about 12 to 15 minutes. Then you’re done. Sometimes I throw in some thinly sliced celery or the bottom parts of green onions if I have that saved in the fridge.