Pollo Marinado en Escabeche

pollo marinado en escabeche

Having made Sardinas en Escabeche last week …and eaten them, I was left with some pickling liquid.

Brief recap: escabeche is a food preservation technique which originated in Persia or Arabia several millennia ago. The word escabeche is derived from the Persian word sikbaj, meaning cooked in vinegar – al-sikbaj. Both the Greeks and Romans used vinegar as a preservative (the Romans used it to preserve fried fish and added it to their popular fish sauce Garum), so escabeche probably reached Spain long before the the Moorish conquest of Iberia. The Greeks and Romans both had fish preservation factories in Portugal and Spain. The Spanish added an extra taste dimension to escabeche when they discovered the Americas and brought pimentón (paprika) back to Europe.

I often incorporate the escabeche liquid into a pasta sauce with the sardines, or drizzle it on salad and it’s fantastic per mullar pa – Catalan expression, “to wet bread” – meaning that a sauce is good enough to dip your bread in it! However, this time I thought I’d do something more extravagant with the escabeche, since it contains many of the ingredients associated with a marinade – Chicken marinated in Escabeche. This relates directly to the Iberian technique of preserving raw meat en adobo – before the advent of refrigeration, meat was often (similarly) preserved raw in wine or wine vinegar. Vindaloo (Carne de vinha d’alhos) was originally an Iberian rabbit or pork dish (using preserved meat in wine vinegar) taken to India by the Portuguese.

pollo crudo en escabeche

Pollo Marinado en Escabeche:

1 medium free range chicken
the liquid and vegetables from a sardine or other escabeche
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera picante
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

To serve:
chicken stock for gravy

Add half a teaspoon of pimentón de la Vera picante (the hot one) to the escabeche. Marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight. My butcher wrapped the chicken in paper, then handed it to me in a plastic bag – this is common since meat in paper leaks, so I recycled the bag and used it as the marination medium. Unfortunately plastic bags are one of the most efficient vessels for a marinade.

listo para hornear

24 hours later, I put the lemon and garlic inside the bird and the vegetables underneath. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cook for 2 hours at 200º C, basting every 20 minutes or so.

pollo cocinado en escabeche

Sprinkle with parsley, to add colour, when done.

patatas asadas

Serve with roast potatoes, which can be cooked at the same time. Ideally, rest the bird in foil, while making a gravy.

escabeche cocinado

There were two layers of fat on top of the escabeche cooking liquid. I used the top layer to make a roux and and then stirred in the bottom layer (below the fat) of chicken and vegetables juices.

salsa de escabeche

I combined the escabeche roux with chicken stock and red wine to make a gravy.

The chicken tasted fantastic and was incredibly succulent – the escabeche worked in a similar way to brining. The acidic escabeche gravy really complimented the broad beans, green beans and cauliflower served with the bird. I recommend drinking a glass or two of Gallo Alejandro Chana Tinto from las Islas Canarias, with the roast.

About Mad Dog

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11 Responses to Pollo Marinado en Escabeche

  1. Eha says:

    ‘laughter* Well I am so glad to get the second part of the escabeche story so quickly – so easy to prepare once you have made the mixture ! Your chicken dish invites one to forget work and the computer and repair oneself into the kitchen immediately ! But did it really take two full hours to cook – must have been a bulky bird !! By-the-bye, both my husbands loved Goan and Indian vindaloos – so the appeal has been there a long time . . . 🙂 ! ‘Before the advent of refrigeration’ ha ! When I was born everyone back ‘home’ did not as yet have a fridge – we had a ‘warn’ pantry in the kitchen and a ‘cold one in an unheated huge ‘cupboard’ outside the kitchen door . . . with Estonia’s climate for most of the year and on the shady side of the house it seemed to work fine 🙂 !!! . . . bestest . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – I like to cook them slowly with lots of basting and have the potatoes going at the same time. I too remember a time before fridges and a fantastic walk in larder.

    • Ron says:

      Eha, I remember my great grandmother’s icebox which held an ice block. The iceman delivered ice every couple of days. Here in Northern Sweden, most hunting and fishing cabins have chilling cabinets which just use the cold air in the fall/spring-like you described. Then in the winter they cut blocks of frozen lake ice with special chain saws and store them in the Icehouse. It usually holds in the lake ice until the first snow flys. When we stayed up north a few summers ago I loved chipping off some of the lake ice for my evening G&T…

      • Mad Dog says:

        They used to have big round, domed, icehouses on all the country estates in the UK. I’ve seen a few of them, now abandoned or repurposed. There are quite a few around London: https://www.london-footprints.co.uk/articehse.htm

      • Eha says:

        *found by accident* When I first arrived in Oz as a child, the ‘iceman’ arrived twice a week bringing in big blocks of dripping ice inti the ;icebox we had in our initial two rented rooms – with the climate here it was an unholy mess with water dripping onto the floor . . . methinks we all cheered when we got our own first flat with a proper fridge 111 Mamoties !

        • Eha says:

          Apologies for the crazy spelling lately . . . my computer badly needs essential service unavailable here in the country under present strict lockdown – not ;essential;’ ’tis said !!!

  2. Ron says:

    You know I’ve made the Mexican version (which I suppose was derived from the Spanish recipe) many times and eaten it many times more, but never thought of using it to marinate a chicken much less fish. Shows what I know. But, then that’s why I love learning from your post. Growing up in Texas escabeche (jalapeno, cauliflower, onion, and carrot) was usually present on our Sunday dinner table as well as at most local Mexican joints. I love the stuff, especially eaten with a fresh homemade flour tortilla. And yes, I dip my tortilla in the juice. Thanks for yet another educational and tasty post.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Ron – it’s amazing to think of an ancient method of food preservation traveling slowly round the Mediterranean over several millennia and then going to India and the Americas by ship, but it’s the pimentón that really cements the flavour. I bet those Mexican pickles tasted good!

  3. Karen says:

    I’ve had escabeche in Jamaica and St. Thomas…always made with a study fish.

  4. Karen says:

    I meant to say sturdy not study fish (spellcheck will always give you a laugh.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Ha ha – sometimes I miss my spell check mistakes completely (on the blog) and come across them several years later! Thanks Karen – it’s a very simple, tried and tested (over hundreds of years) technique, with endless seasoning variations – it’s definitely worth trying! I came across a similar recipe for red mullet today, or you could try it with quail or poussin.

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