This take on a Filipino favorite takes on a deep reddish-brown hue from a quick braise in a soy sauce and vinegar marinade and stock and a smoky grilled flavor from finishing over a hot grill or cast iron grill pan.
- 6 skinless drumstick pieces
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper
- 1 cup coconut vinegar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2/3 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
- Wash and thoroughly dry chicken pieces then place in a large glass or ceramic bowl
- Place all of the other ingredients except the palm sugar and chicken broth in a blender and pulse until liquefied to create the marinade/cooking broth..
- Reserve an 1/8th cup of marinade and set aside.
- Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and massage in well.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at lest 3 hours.
- One hour before cooking remove the chicken from the fridge and mix the reserved marinade with the palm sugar until it dissolves
- Place chicken and marinade into a medium sized saucepan.
- Add enough chicken broth to nearly cover the chicken and heat over medium high and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until legs are just cooked through.
- 5 minutes before chicken is done simmering, put a cast iron pan over a medium high heat.
- Once chicken is nearly done, remove from broth and allow to drain for a few seconds.
- Transfer chicken to cast iron pan, and brush with sauce.
- Sear for 2-3 minutes then turn a 1/3 turn and brush with sauce until all surfaces are grilled nicely and lightly glazed.
- Remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Serve with steamed rice or a fresh salad.
El Pollo Dorado al Carbon
W. 21st N. and N. Wellington Pl.
Wichita, KS 67203
If you drive down W. 21st St in Wichita in the late afternoon, chances are that by the time you approach the 200 block you will notice that the air takes on the delicious scent of mesquite smoke and grilled meat. This delightful aroma emanates from a bright yellow food truck, El Pollo Dorado al Carbon (or more accurately the large charcoal grill next to the truck) that can often be found on the north-east corner of W 21st and Wellington.
This truck does one thing–charcoal-grilled chicken–and it does it very well. Out of the small window of the vehicle pieces of chicken, golden/orange from marinating in achiote paste and other herbs and spices, magically appear with a small selection of salsas, ranchero beans, and freshly cooked corn tortilla. The chicken–lightly-spiced and scented with mesquite smoke–is succulent, tender, unctuous, unbelievably flavorful, and grilled to perfection.
The accompaniments are just as delicious. The ranchero beans are flavored with the traditional bean-herb epazote that for some can be an acquired taste, but they are plentiful and served piping hot. The corn tortillas are soft, hot and delicious; the light perfume created by the nixtamalization process is the perfect compliment to the aroma of the grilled chicken. On the night my wife and I visited El Pollo Dorado, we were served three salsas: a garlicky salsa de arbol that would have turned cardboard into a gourmet meal (and have driven-off vampires for at least a two-block radius), a light guacamole laced with habanero peppers and lime juice, and a thin and deceptively spicy, habanero-spiked citrus salsa that I would buy by the tub if it were commercially available.
Like most food trucks in the area, cash is the only form of payment. Half a bird with sides was $8.95 + tax while a whole bird with sides runs $13.95 + tax. It is worth every penny… .
Thai food is one of the world’s great cuisines. I discovered this a teenager growing up in Australia when the irresistible aromas coming from a newly opened restaurant lured me in, while the combination of spice, salt, sweet, and sour that is characteristic of Thai food hooked me completely.
This recipe, an adaptation of one of Thailand’s most famous dishes, Pad Krapow, has a depth of flavor that belies its simplicity. The entire process, from chopping the ingredients to serving, takes no more than 30 minutes. Some of the more exotic ingredients may be hard to find at your local mega-market but if you live in a town with a sizable Asian population, you will most likely be able to find a specialty Asian grocer that stocks everything you need (and much, much more).
Thai Chicken and Basil
- 1 lb of boneless chicken breast or thighs, chopped finely
- 1 cup of Thai basil leaves (or better yet, holy basil if you can find it)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 of a medium-sized onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon of red or green Thai pepper, finely chopped (~ two peppers)
- 1 teaspoon of pad prik khing paste (or red curry paste)
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon of kecap manis (a sweet, thick soy sauce) *
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (or palm sugar)
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup of water
*Note: If kecap manis is unavailable add an extra teaspoon of dark soy and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar.
Important: Prepare and assemble all ingredients and place them somewhere within easy reach of the cook top where you will be working. Once the cooking starts it goes very quickly and needs almost constant attention.
- Heat a medium-sized wok, or a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat until very hot.
- Add oil to pan and immediately add onions and garlic. Stir fry until aromatic ~10 to 15 seconds making sure not to let the garlic scorch.
- Add the chicken to the wok and stir to mix the onions, garlic and chicken together.
- Stir fry until the chicken just begins to lightly brown about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the pad prik khing or red curry paste and stir fry for a few seconds to coat the meat.
- Add the Thai chili, soy sauce, kecap manis, sugar, and the fish sauce to the wok. Let cook for 1 minute, stirring every few seconds.
- Add the water to the wok and cook for another minute, stirring mixture occasionally.
- Add basil leaves then stir to mix the basil into the mixture. Continue to cook the mixture until basil is just wilted then remove from heat ~ 15 seconds. Serve.
Steamed jasmine rice is a perfect partner for this dish. If you are looking a for a light meal or are counting carbs, place 1 or 2 tablespoons of the Thai Chicken and Basil into lettuce leaves (soft lettuces like butter or bibb work best), and eat like a little green taco.