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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pigs, Goats, Chickens, and Rutabagas

Next door to where I work is a little Mexican grocery called La Michoacana Mexican Market. When the door swings open the marimbas are churning, the salsa music is blaring, and my mind can picture a couple doing the cha-cha. At the back of the store they have a selection of meats, mainly pork that they butcher themselves. I know this because one night a man was wheeling a whole pig through the front door on a hand-truck. Just a few minutes after they finished unloading, a nice Mexican man, that I learned was from Chicago, explained that the pig was used mainly for carnitas. A few stores down from La Michoacan we see the Halal meats store unloading goats rather frequently, but those are other stories altogether. Well, the Mexican store has some pertinence.

Yesterday while we were in the doldrums at work, I wandered through the aisles of sauces and canned goods with some looking like Mexican generics that Wal-Mart would frown upon and others that had very little English whatsoever. I had it in my mind to make a roasted adobo chicken (that’s where the Mexican store comes in) and since it was late when I got home from work the nice individuals south of the border helped me out with the prep work in the form of Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. 

To accompany chicken I picked up a stunning specimen of a rutabaga at the farmers market the weekend before. You will have to forgive me for forgetting the variety but suffice it to say that it differed from the coarse bowling-ball shaped rutabagas seen sometimes in the grocery store both in shape and taste. I remember from childhood the odor of rutabagas cooking in the oven while at my great-grandmother’s and frankly I was a bit leery. They smelled and looked awkward then and I was praying they didn’t taste awkward now. They happened to be an excellent accompaniment; and did I mention that I used bacon grease with the roast chicken.

Adobo Roasted Chicken with Rutabagas

2 bone-in chicken breasts
3 oz. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3/4 C. onion finely diced
4 T. bacon grease
4 T. cumin
3 T. Dijon Mustard
Juice from half a lemon
1 # rutabaga peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix rutabagas, some peppers, onion, bacon grease, 2 T. cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 1 T. mustard, and arrange on the bottom of baking dish leaving room for chicken. Set chicken in baking dish and grind salt and pepper atop and add the remaining amount of mustard, peppers, and cumin. Bake for twenty five minutes uncovered then an additional twenty five covered. Allow to cool for about eight minutes before serving. Pan juices can be thickened for a sauce.


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