Monday, June 2, 2014

Whole Chicken Pollo Relleno

This recipe comes from Susana Rangel Gutierrez via Saveur, and boy it is a good one. This chicken was just fantastic. The skin is to die for. The chicken is moist and the cheesy goodness is incredible. As usual, I didn't use the butter substituting olive oil instead. If you can't find Manchego, make sure to get a provolone that has a little sharpness. You definitely don't want a neutral cheese. I also added some sliced green olives that were lying around the fridge.

For serving, I think lime wedges and other taco fixins should be added (chopped onion, cilantro, guacamole, sour cream or greek yogurt, etc).

1 (4½–5-lb.) chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
5 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. thinly sliced Manchego fresco or provolone
6 oz. white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bunch spinach (about 5 oz.), tough stems trimmed
Salsa verde and tortillas, for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 475°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Slide fingers under the skin of breast to create a pocket. Mix 1 tbsp. butter and the garlic in a bowl; spread over breast meat. Stuff cheese, mushrooms, and spinach leaves into pocket; stuff any excess into cavity. Using a trussing needle and 6' kitchen string, tuck tail inward and sew cavity closed; tie legs together (see How to Truss a Chicken). Place breast side up in a 9" x 13" baking dish; rub with remaining butter. Cook, basting occasionally, until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165°, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before carving; serve with salsa and tortillas, if you like.

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