I've been experimenting with concoctions for a chicken inasal recipe ever since I read this article about the wonderful piquant barbecued chicken from the Visayas region. Just reading that article and imagining the smoky, well marinated, juicy piece of chicken heaven made me salivate so much. I had to have one and fast!
Most of the recipes I read in the internet said not to scrimp on the spices. Most also suggest to marinate for 1 hour only. But I did get a lot of flavour when I extended that to 6 hours. It was great tasting!
One of the secrets, according to Mang Melchor, is in the vinegar. Use your best and most acidic 'native' vinegar and you cannot go wrong. A lot of people swear by the use of Star margarine or butter in the basting sauce. But on my two trials I used the rendered fat from the chicken itself with nothing but achuete to colour it and it came out good. Next time I'll put some butter and salt in it. We'll see ...
This recipe is still in the tweaking stage so the proportion and ingredients will most likely change later on as I continue to discover the best way of grilling these chicken delights.
1 kg chicken legs
6 Tbsp vinegar
6 Tbsp calamansi or lemon juice
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 tsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp minced ginger
1 piece tanglad (lemongrass) - chopped into 1-inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp rendered chicken oil or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp achuete (annatto) seed
- Trim excess fat and skin from the chicken and set aside. Make diagonal slits on both sides of the chicken legs.
- Combine all other ingredients then put in a plastic ziploc bag together with the chicken legs. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
- For the basting sauce, cook the reserved chicken fat and skin with a little water. Once the water evaporates, drizzle a little oil. Fry the chicken fat until well crisp.
- Remove the crispy chicken fat/skin and add the achuete seeds. Lower heat and cook for about 1 minute or until the achuete gives off its deep red colour. Strain the achuete seeds and discard. Set aside the coloured oil for basting.
- [Optional] Place the chicken legs in a baking pan tightly covered by aluminum foil. Bake at 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F for 25 minutes.
- Grill chicken on a charcoal barbecue while basting with the achuete oil from time to time. Cook until outside is crisp and well browned.
Note: If you skipped the oven-cooking, grill the chicken on indirect heat in the barbecue for at least 15-20 minutes to ensure that the inside is cooked. Then move it to direct heat for the last 5-10 minutes of browning.