Chicken Inasal (Bacolod Grilled Chicken)
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I love the outdoors and most activities related to it. It is no surprise therefore that I like barbeque. One of my earlier posts in this blog is in fact Pork Barbeque which I regularly prepare even during small gatherings or rather simple occasions. In our beach party last weekend, where of course the pork barbeque and grilled spare ribs were the top entrées, I decided to add grilled chicken. And upon thinking grilled chicken, only one thing comes to my mind - Bacolod-Style Chicken Inasal. What could be more exciting than that? Beautiful beach, crystal clear water, cool weather, our favourite drinks, pork barbeque, grilled spare ribs, some grilled vegetables, lots of rice and of course the aromatic chicken ?inasal?. Yes, it?s mouth watering.
Chicken ?Inasal? of Bacolod is the ?Sisig? of Pampanga. Both Filipino dishes are created by roadside eateries serving food for the masses and are now widely accepted all over the country (Philippines). In Bacolod, the heart of Chicken ?Inasal? can be found in the street called ?Manokan Country? (Chicken Country). It is there where eateries and restaurants whose specialties are grilled or ?inasal? chicken lined up creating a delightful fiesta atmosphere making the dish even more stimulating to the palates.
When in Bacolod, one should not miss the opportunity of enjoying this simple yet very satisfying food. Along with shellfish fares and steaming rice, it is a guaranteed meal to remember. It will be heavy on your stomach and yet light on your pocket. A truly amazing treat enjoyed by all walks of life. It?s funny that you will get a lot of different recipes when you ask ?Bacolenos? on how they prepare their ?inasal?. There are even many ingredients peculiar with each recipe like tamarind, patis, Worcestershire sauce and tamarind leaves.
For me, the core ingredients of the dish, which are common to many versions are the spices creating the unique taste of the chicken. It is the foundation of the marinade which will be infused into the chicken pieces. These aromatic spices are garlic, ginger and most importantly lemon grass or ?salay?.
To create the dish, I used about 3 kilos of chicken drumstick and wings. These are my favourite chicken parts and will be perfect for the ?inasal?. You will probably notice that the drumsticks are skinless. That?s how our Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) cook cleans them. They remove and throw away the skin. It?s not good for the health he said. :-)
The marinade ingredients are as follows: about 6 stalks of lemon grass (?salay?), pounded and minced, 2 pcs thumb-sized ginger, peeled and minced, 1 pc whole ginger peeled and minced, 1 cup native vinegar or ¾ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup calamondin (?calamansi?) or lemon juice, 1 tbsp cracked whole pepper, 1 tbsp rock salt and 2 tbsp brown sugar.
For the important basting sauce, we need 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 3 tbsp annatto seed or ?atsuete?, 1 tsp ground pepper and 1 cup good margarine.
First prepare your marinade. In a mixing bowl put all the marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir well to blend and combine all the flavours of the spices and seasonings into one wonderful marinade. Taste and adjust the seasonings and acidity level. Different vinegar provides different levels of acidity, so final adjustment is necessary. At this point you might also want to soak your bamboo skewers in water. I don?t need to explain why. :)
In a large bowl or casserole, place all the drained chicken drumsticks and wings. Check the timing of marinating and start of grilling. Allow at least 45 minutes of marinating before grilling the meat. At any rate, do not marinate more 1½ hours. I committed this mistake before and I would like to spare you from that mess. When you have synchronized the timing, pour the marinade and stir to evenly coat the chicken pieces. Stir every 15 minutes to ensure even infusion of the flavours.
While marinating, prepare the basting sauce. In a small pan heat the vegetable oil until hot. Drop the annatto seeds and steep. Take as much colour and flavour as possible. Remove from heat and carefully discard the seeds. Into the resulting annatto oil blend the margarine and let it melt in the residual heat. Add the ground pepper, stir once more and set aside. Don't skimp on this, I did and it shows in the end product. :-)
After 45 minutes to an hour, take your bamboo skewers which have been soaked in water and skewer the chicken pieces one by one. You can fasten one drumstick followed by one wing in a single skewer for better presentation. Your charcoal grill should be ready by now.
Cook the ?inasal? in batches on low flame. Baste the chicken several times while cooking. Be careful not to overcook. You should cook the meat but must maintain the moist inside. ?Inasal? is better with slightly, just slightly, burnt skin. It adds smoky flavour to the meat.
Continue grilling until all the chicken pieces are done to perfection. Ok, that?s hard to do as some will surely get scorched as you will be busy tasting the first batch of ?inasal? over a bottle of beer. It?s still alright. It?s part of the grilling process. There it is, Chicken ?Inasal? of Bacolod. Yummy! c?,)
Best to serve with ?sinamak? or vinegar infused with red chilies, garlic, peppercorns, ginger and onions. :)