2000s Recipes + Menus

Adobo Chicken in Parchment

Serves 6
  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:2 1/2 hr
May 2008
This ingenious technique cooks the chicken in a purse with its own juices and a mix of spices. It slowly simmers the bird to a silky richness—an enticing side of chicken that we rarely see.
  • 8 dried guajillo chiles, wiped clean
  • 8 dried chiles de árbol, wiped clean, stemmed, leaving seeds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 (2-inch) piece cinnamon stick (preferably Mexican/Ceylon canela)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 6 whole chicken legs
  • Equipment:

    kitchen string
  • Slit guajillo chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a dry cast-iron skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches (with guajillos opened flat), turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to a bowl and soak in boiling-hot water until softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain chiles, then purée in a blender with 1 tablespoon sea salt and remaining ingredients except chicken and remaining sea salt until adobo is very smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle chicken with remaining 3/4 teaspoon sea salt. Place 1 chicken leg in center of a sheet of parchment paper (about 20 by 15 inches) and cover with 1/3 cup adobo. Gather parchment up around chicken and tie tightly with kitchen string. Repeat with remaining chicken and adobo.
  • Arrange packages in 2 steamer racks and/or pasta-pot inserts. Set steamer racks (on top of each other) over boiling water in a pasta pot (use 2 pots if you can't layer your racks) and steam, covered tightly, until chicken is very tender and starting to fall off the bone, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. (Replenish water as necessary.)
  • Carefully transfer each package to a shallow bowl. Remove kitchen string and slowly slide parchment out from underneath chicken and broth. Season with salt.
Cooks' note: Parchment packages can be assembled and chilled up to 1 day before steaming.
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