Torta Loca de Pollo y Plátano
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breast filets)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 3 tablespoons if frying chicken, plus more for plantains
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
4 whole cloves
2 very ripe plantains, peeled and diagonally sliced
1 1/2 cups refried beans, homemade or store bought
6 bolillos, teleras, individual baguettes or large baguettes cut into 4-inch pieces and halved
2 large ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and sliced
Place the chicken in a container or dish.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, cumin, cinnamon, allspice black pepper and salt. With your hands, pulverize the tops of the cloves into the mix and discard the stems. Whisk with a fork or whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture all over the chicken, making sure it is entirely covered. You may marinate it for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, or cook immediately.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make sure your chicken thighs are not rolled out before you bake them; they should be in their normal shape, as if there were a bone still in them. Place the baking dish with the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 500 and roast for 5 more minutes, until the chicken has browned on top and bottom and the meat is thoroughly cooked. Alternatively, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole or frying pan set over medium high heat. Once hot, cook the chicken for about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before you slice. Once it is cool enough to handle, cut each thigh into 1/2-inch slices across the grain.
Heat about 1/2-inch oil in a large casserole or frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once it is hot, test with a plantain slice to see if there are active bubbles all around it (without foaming over). Fry the plantain slices, without crowding the pan (you may need to do it in batches), for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until they are golden brown, a bit caramelized and crisp. Remove and place on a paper towel covered plate.
Heat your refried beans!
To assemble the tortas: If the bread is fresh, just slice it in half, no need to toast. If it isn’t fresh, toast it for a few minutes. Spread about 2 to 3 tablespoons refried beans on the bottom half, top with 4 to 5 cooked plantain slices, then a chicken thigh and then 3 to 4 slices of avocado. Place top half on bread on. Cut in half and eat, or pack and take it to go.
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Sliced bread brushed with melted butter, toasted until golden, layered with handfuls of nuts and dried fruits, drenched in Piloncillo syrup, topped with crumbled salty cheese and baked until it all comes together…. Once out of the oven, it tastes like a cross between French Toast and Bread Pudding. Crisp-on-the-top and moist-in-the-center, every spoonful a delightful mess.
It reminds me of how my father loves to slice sweet bananas over his savory lentil soup; or how my family goes crazy over piling ates (fruit pastes) with Manchego cheese, as so many Mexicans do; or how I used to love eating a handful of chocolate covered raisins right after a handful salty pop corn, and then repeat it again and again at the movies growing up, as long as the movie lasted. Capirotada has that same wild mix.
Once you finish your piece, I bet you will beg for a bit more of that addicting combination. That’s probably why I have received so many requests for a recipe.
Continue reading Going Nuts and Bananas for Capirotada