Ecuadorans typically make this homey dish with a fermented corn drink called chicha. Although chicha is available at some Latin American markets, a full-flavored beer is an excellent substitute.
Ají (made with chiles and tomatoes) is Ecuador's all-purpose condiment. While some versions are smooth purees, this chunky ají is more like a relish. If you would prefer a more fiery ají, include the seeds of the jalapeño.
Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips
1 large red onion, sliced paper thin
1 cup boiling water
1 large plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 large jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
4 pounds chicken drumsticks and thighs, excess fat trimmed
Freshly ground pepper
One 12-ounce bottle full-flavored beer, such as Dos Equis or Corona
How to Make It
In a medium heatproof bowl, toss the onion slices with 2 teaspoons of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a colander and drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well; pat dry.
Dry the bowl and return the onion to it. Stir in the tomato, jalapeño, lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a food processor, coarsely puree the canned tomatoes with the garlic, chopped red onion, cumin, 1/2 cup of the cilantro and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Heat the Annatto Oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook the chicken over moderate heat, turning once, until golden, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in the casserole.
Add the tomato puree to the casserole and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Return the chicken and its juices to the casserole and add the beer. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate. Cook the sauce over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the chicken onto a platter or plates and garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro. Pass the ají at the table.
The ají can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. The chicken stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and gently reheated.
Beer A rich but thirst-quenching Mexican beer will highlight the beer in this stew. Look for an ale with good body, a subtly sweet maltiness and a bright finish, such as Casta Dorada, or opt for a lager, such as Bohemia by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc.
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