With a new president and vice president finally proclaimed, I believe I can take a break from commentary and write about something I am almost as passionate about — food.
If there’s one thing I enjoyed about having been a reporter, it was the opportunity to travel around the country at least once a month, see different sites, and of course, try out the different regional dishes. I always make it a point to eat fresh seafood. In particular, I love grilled seafood and kilawin. I also love chicken because of two things: 1) the freshness of the native chickens used (of course, they don’t use frozen chicken); and 2) the preparation and mixture of ingredients.
In my last visits to Iloilo City and Bacolod, the first thing I looked for was chicken inasal. The dish is available in restaurants here in Metro Manila, but nothing beats the locally-prepared and authentic version.
I’ve always wondered what the ingredients of Inasal are, but I never got to research or ask. But at a food store recently, I saw jars of inasal marinade being sold. The ingredients were very basic, but the price of the marinade was very prohibitive.
So why not make your own? The result: chicken inasal at home. My version is easy. No need to bring out the grill. I roasted mine. Your oven or turbo oven will do great. And because you’re using the oven, you can roast one whole chicken at once, instead of having to grill each piece of chicken.
What came out was chicken with crispy skin, and very juicy meat. My family devoured the dish in minutes.
ROASTED CHICKEN INASAL
(Serves 4-5 people)
1 whole chicken
- White Vinegar, 3 cups (you can add other kinds of native vinegar like sukang paumbong for added taste)
- Calamansi juice from 6 pieces of fruit for the marinade (for foreign readers, you can substitute this with lemon)
- Calamansi, 6 pieces, sliced for the cavity, sliced into half
- Garlic, chopped
- Garlic, 2 bulbs/heads
- Onion, chopped, 1/2 cup
- Ginger, 1/2 cup
- Lemon grass, chopped into 4-inch strips
- Achuete powder (also known as annatto powder)
- Salt and Pepper
I’m really not very strict when it comes to the measurement of ingredients for this dish. So feel free to improvise as you go on.
In any case, the marinade is easy. Just mix the vinegar, calamansi juice, 1/4 chopped garlic, 1/4 onion, 1/4 cup ginger, achuete/annatto powder, and salt and pepper. Make sure that the cavity of the chicken is filled with the marinade. Leave for at least 15 minutes, tossing the chicken to make sure that all sides are able to absorb the flavor. I would recommend marinating for an hour or two for more flavor. I did mine for 15 minutes because it was a sudden, unplanned dinner at home, and it still came out very tasty.
Once the marinade is one, you can now put the chicken on the roasting pan. Line the bottom with lemon grass that has been submerged into the marinade for two minutes.
Preheat the oven at 200 C.
As for the chicken, cut a small slit in the breast. Your objective here is to put the remaining 1/4 cup garlic, 1/4 cup onion, and 1/4 cup ginger in between the chicken skin and the meat inside.
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with achuete all over the chicken. Insert the lemon grass, two heads of garlic, and calamansi inside the cavity.
Lay chicken into the roasting pan breast down (yes, breast down first to avoid drying up the chicken). Roast for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with the marinade every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the chicken breast up, and roast for another 20 minutes. Again, baste every 5 minutes. That’s it!
Now, you don’t need to leave home to taste delicious chicken inasal. Enjoy!