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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Enrollado de Pollo Picoso

"Zesty Rolled Chicken"

I just couldn't face making another fattie right now - time for something different. Well, this turned out to be very tasty, and thought it takes a few steps, it's worth making! This is a two-day recipe, as it requires some freezer time.

2 lg chicken breasts
2 oz Mexican chorizo, cooked
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
4 oz pepper jack cheese, cut in slices
1 12oz package of bacon slices, straight and even

Served with peppers and onions.
Served with Cilantro-Lime cream sauce.

Day One
First, we need top pound out the chicken - everything else comes after that. Trim all visible fat and other material from the breasts. It can be very easy to get carried away and tear the breasts as you pound them if you aren't careful, so take your time. If you aren't up on this, here's how I do it.

First tip - place the breast between two pieces of plastic wrap with a little water sprinkled on it. This will encourage the breast to spread rather than tear. Start from the middle as you are pounding, working your way out toward the edges. You can use a special meat hammer, but some folks even have been known to use a small cast iron pan or even a can of food! Whatever works for you is what works. If the breast tears a little, in this recipe it's not as critical as it could be in other ones.

Once the breasts are pounded out to about 1/2" thick, lay out a fresh piece of plastic wrap with the long direction running front to back. Place the breasts in the center of the plastic, overlapping the thinnest portions.

For this iteration, I decided to keep the filling simple. I used crumbled bacon, cooked Mexican chorizo, pepper jack cheese and of course, cilantro.

Next, layer the slices from end to end across the chicken plateau. On top of that, place a mix of the bacon and chorizo, followed by sprinkling the cilantro. Liberally grind pepper over the chicken, there's plenty of salt in the bacon and chorizo.

At this point, I'd slide it into the freezer for 30-45 minutes to firm up the chicken - it'll be easier to roll. Just don't freeze it too solid! Once out of the freezer, use the plastic wrap to pull the chicken into a tight roll. Should fillings try to escape out the ends, tuck them back in.

Once it's rolled up tight, twist the ends up tight to firm the shape and back in the freezer. You can try and do the next step now, but without practice, it will be a study in frustration. It's a lot easier if you put the tightened roll in the freezer it goes until solid, probably overnight.

Day Two
Time for the finishing touch. Get the package of bacon out of the fridge, and now jump to the section on making the Bacon Weave. I'll wait for you right here.

So, now you're back and your bacon weave is perfect, right? Don't worry if it's not, it takes practice and you always get to eat the mistakes. If you need to, this is a perfect place in the recipe to freeze this if you so desire. Sometimes it's easier to make more than one, and thaw them out when the mood strikes you. Let's just make sure that the whole roll is defrosted before we approach the grill.

Crank up the fire in the grill using an approved method (a chimney, no fluids!) and when the coals are gray, build a two level fire.

Set up your fire all on one side of the grill under the grate, with no coals under the other side. This will give you the option of a hot fire on one side and a medium fire as you move away, allowing you to control your cooking times and temperature.

Once you get the fire established, on goes your Enrollado de Pollo. Now, you can't just walk away, this will require some babysitting. Sear the roll for 3 minutes on each of the four sides while cooking over the hot coals, replacing the cover after each quarter-turn. Once the bacon is crisped, repeat the quarter turns, but for four minutes per side and off to the side of the fire, again withthe cover down between each turn.

As the filling is already cooked, basically all you are doing is cooking bacon and half an inch of chicken, so it won't take long. When you're done, it should look something like this. I hope that I wouldn't need to remind you, but for my lawyer's sake - remember to remove all the toothpicks you used on the bacon before serving!

I served this dish with grilled onions and red, yellow and green bell peppers. As a dressing, I used a simple Cilantro-Lime cream sauce to complement the bacon/chorizo spiciness. Here's a closeup of the finished slices - they were extra juicy!

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