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Mains

Barbacoa de pollo

Barbacoa de pollo
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

How do you know it's Christmas at Bricia Lopez's house? There's a big Christmas tree in one corner of the art-filled hillside bungalow; a baby bobs in his bouncy chair. Bricia, her sisters Elizabeth Lopez and Paulina Lopez Velasquez, and ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, plus marinating time | Serves 6 to 8
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 g) dried guajillo peppers, stems removed
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup dry oregano
  • 1 (3/4-ounce) bunch thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, each one quartered
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt
  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces up
  • 15 dried avocado leaves

Step 1Place the dried peppers in a bowl and cover with hot water. Weight the peppers down and set aside for several minutes to give the peppers time to soften.

Step 2Meanwhile, wrap the onion in aluminum foil and grill over a hot comal or griddle until the onion is charred and softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Step 3Over the comal or griddle, toast the garlic cloves, cinnamon, whole cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, oregano, thyme and bay leaves, tossing or stirring until the ingredients are aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4Combine the tomatoes and water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Step 5Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender and blend until everything is fully pureed, several minutes. Taste and season with 1 tablespoon salt, or as desired. Combine the marinade and chicken in a nonreactive container, cover and marinate overnight.

Step 6Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a large baking dish and cover with the avocado leaves. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the chicken is tender, 60 to 75 minutes.

Note: Avocado leaves are available from select Latin markets as well as online.

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