CHICHARRONES DE POLLO (from South America, for four)

Chicharrones were created by Chinese immigrants to South America and have become popular all over the continent and into the Central American peninsula.

one 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into 16 pieces, or 8 chicken thighs, cut in half crosswise

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

peanut or vegetable oil for frying

hot sauce

2 limes, cut into wedges

cilantro, for garnish

1. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Put the pieces into a large non-reactive glass or steel bowl and pour the lime juice over them. Sprinkle with the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Toss until the seasoning is uniformly distributed and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, refrigerated. (Or cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the chicken).

2. Place a rack over a cookie sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 150* (or warm setting). Fill a deep cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or deep-fat fryer with enough oil to come halfway up the sides, at least 2 inches deep. Over medium-high heat, bring the fat to 375* (hot but not smoking – a pinch of flour or a cube of bread should sizzle and turn golden in the hot fat).

3. When the fat is hot, lift the chicken pieces a few at a time from their marinade, allowing the excess to flow back into the bowl. Slip them into the fat. Repeat until the pan is full without crowding. Fry, maintaining a temperature of 365*, turning once, until the chicken is a rich golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes (If you chicken pieces are larger, the frying time will be a few minutes longer).

4. Lift the chicken from the fat, drain well and transfer to the wire rack in the oven while you fry the remaining chicken. Serve hot, with hot sauce and lime wedges passed separately.

NOTE: If you like, you can spice up the marinade with a few hot red pepper flakes or with a few shots of hot sauce. Other common additions to the marinade are minced fresh ginger (about 2 quarter-size slices, minced fine), rum, sugar and chopped cilantro.


adapted from Damon Lee Fowler, Fried Chicken

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