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Prep 10 mins
Cook 3 hrs
This is loosely based on Rick Bayless' recipe for Cochinita Pibil (Achiote Pork) from his book Mexican Everyday. This is a whole braised chicken with a rich flavor with a bit of spice. Preparation is quick, and the chicken is beautiful, once it's done. For simplicity, you can simply cook it in a large 6-8 quart stew pot or dutch oven (I prefer the enameled, cast-iron type, but any heavy pot with a lid will do. I like to bake plantains or sweet potatoes to go with it, so I remove the pot from the oven at about 2 1/2 hours and put it on the stove on med-low heat to finish. You can also cook this in a slow cooker on low for 10-12 hours. I suggest wrapping the lid in foil, if it's loose, or there's a gap between the crock and the lid. The dish is actually braised, but this is what I always think of, when someone mentions roasted chicken. If you really like garlic, you can add an full head, then pull it apart, when the dish is finished. The garlic cloves will fall apart, and you can squeeze them out on the chicken, tortillas (good with a bit of butter or cheese), or you can spread them on crusty bread. You can find Achiote Molido (Annatto) in the Mexican foods' spice section of most good markets, or you can visit a Mexican or other Hispanic market. You can usually find it in inexpensive cellophane bags with other spices and dried chiles. You can also buy Comino Molido (ground cumin) and Mexican Oregano, there. Both are inexpensive and have great flavor. By the way, 'Zaar insists on 'chickens' in the ingredients, but you want one 5-6 pound bird.
- Defrost the chicken, if necessary, and remove the neck, liver, giblets, and excess fat. Rinse if needed, then place in the pot. If you prefer a lower-fat version, you can remove the skin and most of the fat from the bird, but the flavor will suffer (you can always skim the fat from the cooking liquid, later).
- Preheat the oven to 320°F.
- In a small bowl, combine the achiote, comino (cumin), oregano, and lime juice, then use the back of a spoon to mash into a thick marinade or thin paste.
- Place some of the marinade in the chicken and work it around inside, then pour the rest over the chicken and cover the skin.
- If you are braising in the oven, you may need to add a 1/2 cup of water, depending on the type of bird. Try it the first time you make the recipe, and you can leave it out, later, if you don't want the additional liquid. You do NOT need to add the water, if you cook this in the a slow cooker.
- If the lid for your pot has any holes, or there are any gaps between the lid and pan (or crock), cover the lid with foil so it seals tightly.
- The chicken will need to cook 2 1/2-3 hours. Check the temperature at the thickest parts and remove when the chicken is done (approx 170, a bit lower, if you want to finish the chicken on the stove top). If you want to brighten up the dish a bit and restore a sour bite, add another 1/4 cup of lime juice a couple of minutes before serving.