Tex-Mex brick chicken
This tender, juicy chicken uses two types of chilli for a smoky, fruity, spicy kick. It’s fab with an ice-cold beer.
Equipment and preparation: For this recipe, you will need a heavy, ovenproof object to place on top of the chicken as it cooks; a brick is ideal, but you could use a cast-iron flameproof casserole. You will also need aluminium foil.
For the chicken
- 2 dried chipotle chillies
- ¼-½ habanero chilli, to taste
- generous pinch sea salt flakes
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 orange, juice only
- 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 large whole chicken, spatchcocked and de-boned, only wing bones left in (ask your butcher to do this for you)
For the frijoles
- large knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ bunch fresh coriander, stalks chopped, leaves reserved for garnish
- 2 x 400g tins good-quality Mexican black beans
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped, to garnish
For the chicken, heat a frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chipotle and habanero chillies and dry-fry, turning regularly, until the skins are almost completely blackened and blistered all over. Transfer the chillies to a bowl and cover them with warm water (from a kettle). Set aside to soak for 15-20 minutes, or until soft.
When the chillies are soft, carefully drain away the water and remove the stalks, seeds and skins using your fingers. (CAUTION: Wash your hands thoroughly after skinning and de-seeding the chillies, and don’t touch your eyes during the process.) Roughly chop the chilli flesh, then transfer it to a pestle and mortar and add the salt and olive oil. Pound the chillies to a smooth paste.
Stir the orange juice, oregano and garlic into the chilli paste until well combined.
Lay the spatchcocked chicken out onto a clean work surface. Spread the chilli marinade all over it. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight (covered and chilled).
Meanwhile, for the frijoles, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and garlic and fry for 6-8 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.
Add the chopped coriander stalks to the mixture and continue to fry for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring well.
Stir the black beans and all of the tin contents (see tip) into the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the beans are very soft and the sauce has thickened. (Garnish with the coriander leaves and chopped chilli just before serving.)
When the chicken has marinated, heat a large, heavy-based griddle pan or frying pan over a medium to high heat. When the pan is hot, add the marinated chicken, skin-side down.
Wrap a brick in aluminium foil (see tip). Place the brick on top of the chicken and continue to griddle, without moving or turning it, for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through (the chicken is cooked through if the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat and no trace of pink remains).
Remove the brick(s) from the chicken, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to rest before carving into slices.
To serve, divide the chicken, frijoles, cheese, tomato salsa and lettuce equally among the tacos, or let people make their own tacos.
Tip 1: By taking the bones out of the chicken and cooking it under the pressure of a heavy weight, the cooking time is reduced. This preserves the juiciness and tenderness of the meat.
Tip 2: If you can’t get hold of good-quality Mexican black beans, drain and rinse tinned supermarket black beans before using them, and add an extra 200ml/7oz of chicken or vegetable stock when cooking the beans.