Yesterday my younger cousin celebrated his 19th birthday. Unfortunately, yesterday was also the death anniversary of our grandmother, who passed away 8 years ago. We commemorated the anniversary by lighting candles and saying prayers. For the birthday, a noodle dish was imperative. And because we had Pancit Palabok for my birthday two weeks ago, we prepared spaghetti this time. This is Pinoy spaghetti at its best: kinda sweet, with ground pork, bacon, and hotdog. All it lacks is banana catsup. I draw the line at banana catsup.
For dinner, I prepared Chicken Inasal. It’s been months since I made this at home; we usually have this during summer but we were talking about it the other day so we thought, why not? I know my mother thought of it after seeing the latest TVC of Mang Inasal with Angel Locsin as endorser. I’ve been told by many of those who have tried it that my Inasal is better than Mang Inasal’s so there. 🙂
I got this recipe way back in 2008, when I was living in Cambodia. My Ilongga friend gave it to me. The key ingredient to an excellent Chicken Inasal is the vinegar. Sukang Iloko (Vinegar from Ilocos, or cane vinegar) is the non-negotiable ingredient. The rest of the marinade’s ingredients are crushed garlic, salt and ground black pepper. You can determine the proportions as you like.
You can also decide how long you marinate the chicken. I marinate them for at least 2 hours and 8 hours maximum. I also score the flesh along the meatiest part to ensure absorption and even cooking. Blood on grilled chicken is a no-no. Another key ingredient in Chicken Inasal is the Annato (Atchuete) oil. This is used for basting the chicken while grilling, giving the chicken its distinct color. Heat half a cup of vegetable oil in a pan, then add 2 tablespoons of Atchuete seeds. Stir for about 2 minutes, or until you hear the seeds popping. Remove from the heat and let it rest before pouring it through a sieve or strainer.
The ideal way to cook Chicken Inasal is through an open charcoal-fed grill, using a grill basket to ensure it is flat. But because we couldn’t go to the backyard where our grill is, I had to make do with the stove-top griddle pan. When the pan is hot enough, put the chicken skin-side down and turn after 10-12 minutes. Baste accordingly with the Annato oil and some of the marinade. When cooking over charcoals you should turn the chicken once only. Because I was using the stove-top in grilling, I had to turn the chicken more than once, to ensure even grilling.
Some of the garlic bits ended up cooking on the pan so when they turned golden brown I retrieved them, added them to the hot rice with some of the Annato oil and a pinch of salt. Instant garlic rice!