I swear that I am not contracted to write for Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, it's just that I LOVE their food so much and love the story of how she and her two right-hand men built their business. I had heard that Pablo's Pollo Loco was awesome and one of their best sellers. Finally, I ordered it and realized why. What surprisingly was the best part was the stuffed piquillo pepper. Yum.
Pablo's Pollo Loco
2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts with skin
2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless chicken thighs with skin
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
Zest from 2 limes then cut limes into wedges
1/3 cup olive oil + more for pan
1/2 cup minced cilantro
2 jalapeno chiles, stems removed, minced with seeds
Surprise ingredient: 2 bricks wrapped in foil
Cherry tomatoes and cilantro sprigs (optional garnish)
Instructions: Rinse chicken and place in large bowl. Use poultry shears to cut off any excess fat.
Stir together the chile powder, sugar, salt, black pepper, smoked paprika and lime zest. Rub the dry marinade over all surfaces of the chicken, heavier on the skin side. Drizzle 1/3 cup olive oil over all the chicken and layer pieces with the minced cilantro, jalapeno and lime wedges. Marinate in refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Heat two 10-inch heavy, ovenproof skillets over medium heat on top of the stove. When hot, add 2 teaspoons oil to each pan. Place chicken in the pans, skin-side down.
Place one foil-wrapped brick on top of the chicken in each skillet. The brick will not completely cover the chicken. It's used more as a weight to promote even cooking and to crisp up the skin. Cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes. When chicken is golden brown on bottom, remove brick using pot holders, and turn chicken over. Place bricks back on top of chicken. Place skillets in the oven and roast for 7 minutes more for boneless breasts and 15 minutes more for boneless thighs.
Remove chicken from oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°; the temperature will continue to rise as it rests. Use oven mitt and potholder to remove bricks and place in sink as they will be very, very hot.
Place chicken on platter, garnishing with something pretty like cherry tomatoes and sprigs of cilantro, if desired.