Food smells conjure up so many memories – mostly good, thankfully! I can’t remember what age I was when I first encountered Pollo Asado but it was memorable. Love at first bite as the cliché goes!
Long before the chicken rotisserie machine graced every supermarket and the concept of a raw chicken without giblets was commonplace, my mother brought home an unimaginable feast – a cooked chicken from the local shop in Spain. I remember every detail – the bright yellow plastic bag and the tinfoil package inside. But mostly, I remember the delicious smell, the juices dripping into the bag and the heat off the parcel!
It was one of those simple meals which was divine. Mum put the chicken on a plate and we broke pieces of bread. Eating with our fingers and putting bread into the juices was truly amazing. I worried about the yellowish colour of the flesh but was assured the bird had been corn fed and that was part of the beautiful flavour we were enjoying.
I often cook Pollo Asado but while delicious, it will never be on par with that first encounter. Sometimes, it is eaten with hands and bread or mixed salad or chips. Whatever accompanies it, there are rarely any leftovers!
All the ingredients are commonplace in the kitchen and the chicken is roasted in the usual fashion. The level of garlic, however, is not for the faint hearted!
Whole chicken (c. 4lbs)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 dessert spoon of sea salt flakes
Generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Combine all the ingredients together to make a paste*
3. Rub the paste into the skin of the chicken and allow to stand for about 30 minutes
4. Place in a covered tin and put in the oven
5. Cook for 20 minutes before reducing the heat to 170
6. Cook for 1 hour
7. Remove the lid and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the skin is browned and the juices run clear
8. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving
*The salt can be omitted and sprinkled over instead (this makes the skin crispier).