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Cuban chicken dish-Pollo al Aljibe

Hello Thorn,

I know this post is kind of late, but it's actually really basic. In Cuban cooking a lot of meats (chicken, pork, rabbit, etc.) are marinaded in something called "Mojo" or "Mojo Criollo" it's a garlic citrus sauce (can be made with lime juice or sour orange, or a mix of orange and lime, lots of garlic, salt, pepper and the spices vary I like to use oregano and bay leaves, other's like to use cumin). The chicken you speak of is essentially roasted chicken marinaded in mojo.

Basically for 3- 4 lbs chicken in a blender I blend like 16 cloves of garlic with lime juice or sour orange (I prefer lime or a mix of lime and orange with more lime than orange about 1/2 cup), 1 heaping teaspoon of oregano, 2 tsp. salt.

Pour this marinade and rub all over chicken, and under the skin. Add some olive oil maybe 1/4 cup and mix well too. This is to insure moist chicken, and tuck 2-3 bay leaves in there, and one julienned onion.

Marinade at least 3 hrs preferably over night or longer.

Next day or after marinading, roast in oven at 375 degrees 45- 60 minutes, pour some of the pan juices over chicken, then crank up heat to 400 degrees for 10 minutes to crisp skin, during those 10 minutes, you can de-glaze the pan dry-white wine (or in your case if you prefer champagne).

Serve with white rice, salad, and plantains. Black beans go nice with it too.

P.S. This recipe is from my grandmas family and I've adjusted it over time to get a crisp skin on the chicken, she came from Cuba in 1955. I tend to only de-glaze or use the wine if the marinade reduces to much in the oven and I want some pan-juices.

This same marinade can be used for anything and other applications besides roasting, for example you can omit the olive oil, and choose to pan-fry the chicken in a little oil after marinading, then simmer with marinade and wine untill tender this dish is called "Pollo Asado en Cazuela"... you can also omit the oil, and coat chicken in flour and deep-fry (to make fried chicken), etc.... the roasted chicken we call it "pollo al mojo de ajo" (Chicken in garlic mojo pronounced mo-ho)

Aug 18, 2013
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

How do you use mole?

This is probably extremely late reply, I'm half Mexican, usually enjoy scratch mole, but the pre-made mole pastes are what most people use and if you doctor them up they are amazing. My mom, grandmother, and aunt all cook the pre-made paste the same way and it comes out amazing! They buy a paste called "Mole Poblano" from the Dona Maria brand. They simply call is "Mole de Vaso" (means mole from a cup referring to the container it comes in)

You first boil washed and cleaned chicken or turkey with enough water to barely cover with bay leaves, onions, garlic, salt and bouillon powder for about 45 minutes

Afterwards when stock is done blend the jar of mole paste with stock to a smooth loose paste, heat a deep pot with generous amounts of lard or oil, sautee 1/2 an onion chopped until caramelized 5-7 minutes, add 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup when it bubbles add 1 tablet of Mexican chocolate when that melts into the mixture and bubbles again, add the paste blended with stock and dilute little by little with stock until it has a cream soup consistency. IT TASTES AMAZING!

Another variation my mother makes is with pork, we cut pork into 2 inch chunks, put in a pot with very little water like 1 inch water, salt and pepper, and some lard or oil, let it come to a boil all together uncovered over medium high, and when all the water evaporates and meat renders fat and is browned, add chopped onion 5-6 minutes, tomato sauce, ketchup, chocolate, and blend teh mole paste with store bought beef stock. Let it simmer 15 minutes or until pork is real tender.

Serve with Mexican red rice, or white rice, with beans, a salad etc.

If your more of "purist" or are baffled by tomato sauce and ketchup (yes these do exist in Mexico), then pan-roast fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and blend with stock, fry it in hot oil or lard, add chocolate tablets then add blended paste and dilute with stock little by little.

Jun 10, 2013
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

Tamales: How to make the best masa dough?

I read a lot on here about creaming the lard to make a good masa. But just wanted to add that in my family (grandmother born and raised in Guadalajara, and my mother was raised in Sacapo, Michoacan) use a different method and still get good tamales. They get masa harina (or you can treat your own dry hominy with an alkaline solution, process it, etc) anyways if done with masa harina they mix into it water or stock along with salt to taste, and some baking powder (diluted in a portion of the liquid) into the masa until they get a dough the consistency of peanut butter, then melt the lard and work it into the dough. They work the masa until everything feels really incorporated and it makes a cracking sound (idk they say "tronar" which translates to cracking) but yeah don't have the exact measurements but just wanted to throw it out there for ideas.

Dec 03, 2012
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

coconut milk substituted with regular milk

I used milk for a Jamaican curry and couldn't taste the milk, because since milk has a pretty mild taste, it got taken over by the curry powder, spices, garlic, ginger, but still gave the sauce a little bit of richness, and color. However I do love coconut milk and missed it's richness (it can be very rich) and the hint of coconut. I only used it because I was too lazy to go to the store, but yes coconut milk is awesome if you have it on hand & it's my preferred :)

Aug 09, 2012
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

coconut milk substituted with regular milk

honestly though a lot of people here frown on it, I see nothing wrong, I know plenty of Vietnamese cooks that use whole cows milk for their curries in place of coconut milk., and some who use heavy cream (heavy cream is a great substitute just don't use too much, it gives a nice richness) also some Indian curries are yogurt based so look into those too. Try it for yourself and if it tastes good to you and your family that's all that matters. It won't ruin your dish that's for sure.

Aug 08, 2012
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

Pumpkin seed mole like Mixteco's? [moved from Chicago board]

Google recipes for "Pipian Rojo" it's a red colored pumpkin seed based mole, with a brownish tinge

Jul 24, 2012
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking

California Mexican vs. Tex Mex?

I stayed in San Antonio, Texas around 2009 during December, with family that had recently moved there (the food at their house was what I was use too though that side of the family is from Guadalajara) but when I went out it was different, like the stuff available at the stores and stuff, couldn't get ahold of "Masa para tamales preparada" or fresh masa dough, or fresh made corn tortillas for sale, or good already prepared Tamales it was like they sold these skinny ones in that city, with a different type of filling and stuff, I noticed the flour tortillas were so popular, even used to make tacos that were rolled. However since I'm not from there neither were the family I stayed with (who had barely moved there) maybe that had something to do with what I saw. The area was mostly dominated by these huge stores called "H.E.B's" with a few small ethnic stores.

Don't get me wrong though I love some of the greasy creations (chimichangas, nachos, puffy tacos, etc.) but I wanted lighter stuff too. Are there any cooking blogs that you'd recommend that focus on Tex- Mex cuisine?

Apr 19, 2012
qbnboy90 in General Topics

California Mexican vs. Tex Mex?

From my observations (I've lived in Southern California my whole life/ L.A. area and am 1/2 Mexican my mom is from Michoacan, Mexico) down here in Southern California Mexican food has a lot more vegetables & fruit, it's fresher, less heavy, and a lot of it is typical authentic Mexican food that you get in Mexico too ( a lot of the people living down here or that have restaurants are 1st generation born here, or born in Mexico) corn tortillas are more common, a lot of the places use lard, specially the food you buy at the food courts of the Mexican stores.

Common stuff are Taco places/ stands with all kinds of meat fillings served on corn tortilla with fresh salsas, limes, cilantro, chopped onion, radishes, sometimes pickled jalapenos, carrots, and onions are available. Tortas are pretty popular (sandwiches made with a type of french roll called Bolillo usually with pulled pork, avocado, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, etc.), the Tamales are much larger than the Texas ones that look like rolled cigars.... you see a lot of places that sell all sorts of "carnitas" (fried meats) and chicharrones that been simmered in lard til tender, etc. a lot of variety and regional specialties from Mexico can be found down here, and fresh stuff like ceviches, shrimp or other seafood cocktails, guacamole with alot of chopped tomatoes, onions, chilies and cilantro in it, fried tilapia, grilled meats, molcajetes etc.

In Texas (I was only there 1 month) I noticed flour tortillas were more popular, fresh masa and stuff wasn't readily available, skinny tamales, heavier on cheese, sour cream, beef, less veggies, habits were just different, more what I considered Americanized, and alot of processed stuff too I noticed, kinda like I feel it's what "Chinese American" is to "Chinese food" Texas is the greasy fried version of traditional Mexican food...

Apr 18, 2012
qbnboy90 in General Topics

What's the real difference between ancho and pasillo chile peppers?

True my mom is from Michoacan, Mexico and not until I read this thread did I see a big deal about the labeling, you can just sort of tell the difference, and for those who haven't grown up around this type of cuisine or ingredients just as general rule of thumb the anchos are usually the one's that are dark but have a reddish tinge usually like barely noticeable but it's there, and the pasillas will be more brown black, it becomes more obvious when you cook meat with it like if you make a sauce that on'y uses Pasillas like "Carne de Puerco en Chile Pasilla" (pork in chile pasilla sauce) you'll notice the sauce is darker like black brown you'll get same color if you cook the pork "en Chile Negro", and if you cooked pork in a sauce solely made from Ancho you'll notice it's reddish (though we usually mix ancho with guajillo to make chile colorado but I seen people use only ancho) but yeah for those who are just curious or keep trying to figure it out, make two dishes one with just ancho, and another with just pasilla using the same recipe as a base and compare you'll see the difference.

Apr 17, 2012
qbnboy90 in General Topics

What's the real difference between ancho and pasillo chile peppers?

I couldn't agree with you more, you hit it spot on, from experience as you said the anchos are more reddish in color, and pasilla are more brown black. And yes the ancho seems to have a sweeter flavor. Now I'm not 100% sure but maybe the difference in color depends on what stage of ripeness the Poblano pepper was dried in?

Apr 16, 2012
qbnboy90 in General Topics

Guajillo Chile Crisis

this is a super late reply BUT you can use dried New Mexico chiles, and also "Chile California", as well as "Chile Costeno" in place of guajillos and interchangeably. Chile Puya as well (although Puya is spicy)

Mar 14, 2012
qbnboy90 in Home Cooking