Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cooking Disney: Pollo a las Rajas (Epcot)

I'm obsessed with Disney. No really, I am. My nails are currently painted with colors from the line of Minnie Mouse nail polishes by OPI. There's also 13 Minnie Mouse dolls staring me down as I type this post. I'm hard core. I also love cooking Disney food when I get the chance. I've shared a couple Disney recipes previously (Honey Sesame Chicken and Grapefruit Cake), and today I'm sharing another! This one comes from the Mexico pavilion in Epcot, specifically from the San Angel Inn, which is located inside the Epcot Mexico pyramid. I've never eaten there, but I've been on the Gran Fiesta Tour river ride that goes through there.

The dish I made is called Pollo a las Rajas. Las Rajas means "cracks" or "splits" in Spanish, and refers to the skin of the roasted poblano chile. This is a recipe that sounds a lot less exciting on paper than it actually is. Sauteed vegetables in a sour cream sauce topped with chicken sounds so yesterday. But I swear it's not! It's really really good! It's not the typical Mexican food you'd imagine, either. It's just a really great combination of flavors, what can I say?

Thin strips of poblano chile, red bell pepper, and onions melt together with chunks of chorizo and a slightly tangy sour cream sauce that isn't nearly as rich as it looks or sounds. Garlic-kissed chicken breasts top the vegetables, finishing off this rustic dish with a sophisticated edge. Originally, the recipe suggests baking the chicken breasts, but on the menu the chicken is actually grilled, so I simply marked my chicken breasts on my grill pan (to give it grill marks) and then finished it off in the oven to cook through. Easy peasy.

Also, the original recipe wants you to essentially fry the poblano chile in some oil to char the skin so you can peel it, but I think you can save the fat (and effort) by simply grilling or broiling the pepper, or in my case holding it with tongs over a gas flame until all the skins chars and starts to peel. The final change I made was in regard to the cheese. The recipe said to top with Monterey Jack cheese and broil it, but again, the restaurant does not do that. The photographs I've seen show either a naked chicken breast on top, or one topped with uncooked crumbled queso fresca. So that's what I'm including in this version. I can't wait to make it again! It was not only super easy to make (weeknight meal, anyone?) but it was a huge hit! Yummy!! Two thumbs up for Disney :-D

Pollo a las Rajas
Serves 4
(Adapted from Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 large poblano chile
1 large Spanish onion, halved and sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 cup peeled and diced chorizo (preferably Mexican)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
Queso fresca, optional

Season the chicken breasts with 2 of the garlic cloves, salt, and pepper, and drizzle with about 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Grill the chicken breasts or bake them in a roasting pan, uncovered at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until cooked. Alternatively, mark the chicken breasts on a grill or grill pan (to get grill marks) and then finish them in the oven until they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, take the poblano chile and either grill it, broil it, or hold it with tongs over a gas flame to char the skin. When the skin has charred, remove it from the heat source and place it in a plastic bag for a few minutes to steam (this will make it easier to peel). Peel the poblano, remove the seeds, and slice into thin strips.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onion, chorizo, and the remaining minced garlic clove. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions and peppers are soft. Add the sour cream, half-and-half, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 3 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

Spoon the vegetable mixture evenly onto four serving dishes and top each with a chicken breast. Sprinkle crumbled queso fresca over the top, if desired.


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