Roasted chili cumin chicken with pickled red onions
Inspired by Mexican street food sweet, tangy pickled red onions and chopped cilantro give roasted chili cumin chicken a lively, fresh finish.
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Roasted Chili Cumin Chicken with Pickled Red Onions
Serves 2 to 4 (depending on chicken thigh sizes)
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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For the pickled red onions
1/2 cup white vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise, peeled and sliced
For the chicken
2 teaspoons good chili powder (see Kitchen Notes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large chicken thighs (or drumsticks and thighs – see Kitchen Notes)
Make the pickled onions. Combine all ingredients except the sliced onions in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add onions and simmer for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to coat them evenly and cook them slightly.
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When onions are completely cool, transfer to a clean lidded jar and refrigerate. Can be made ahead. The onions will keep refrigerated for up to a month, but some recipes say they’re best in the first week.
Marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Add the olive oil and whisk to combine. Add the garlic slices. Trim the chicken of excess skin and fat and pat dry with paper towels. Add to the bowl and toss with your hands to coat the chicken evenly (a messy but simple task). Transfer the chicken to a large zippered plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken, seal the bag and massage it to distribute the marinade evenly. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
Roast the chicken. About a half hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off any excess and taking care to remove any garlic slices (they love to burn in the oven). Arrange chicken thighs skin side up in a lightly oiled baking dish large enough to not crowd them. Roast the chicken on the middle rack of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove chicken from oven, transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop some cilantro leaves. Serve, passing the cilantro and pickled onions in separate bowls.
Choosing your chili powder. First, yeah, buying dried chiles, roasting them and grinding them is a great way to get wonderful flavor. I tend to compensate by using real good chili powders. Here, I mixed equal parts of ground Sweet Ancho Chile Pepper and New Mexican Chile Pepper, both available at The Spice House.
Choosing your chicken parts. Honestly, for this recipe, you can use whatever chicken parts you like. I chose thighs because they’re nice and meaty and tend to remain juicy when roasted. By increasing the amount of marinade, you can bump up the amount of chicken you prepare and even do an entire cut up chicken.
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