Barbacoa de pollo

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Barbacoa de pollo
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Place the dried peppers in a bowl and cover with hot water. Weight the peppers down and set aside for several minutes to give the peppers time to soften.


Meanwhile, wrap the onion in aluminum foil and grill over a hot comal or griddle until the onion is charred and softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.


Over the comal or griddle, toast the garlic cloves, cinnamon, whole cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, oregano, thyme and bay leaves, tossing or stirring until the ingredients are aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.


Combine the tomatoes and water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.


Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender and blend until everything is fully pureed, several minutes. Taste and season with 1 tablespoon salt, or as desired. Combine the marinade and chicken in a nonreactive container, cover and marinate overnight.


Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a large baking dish and cover with the avocado leaves. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the chicken is tender, 60 to 75 minutes.

Avocado leaves are available from select Latin markets as well as online.

Jonathan Gold was the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007 and was a finalist again in 2011. A Los Angeles native, he began writing the Counter Intelligence column for the L.A. Weekly in 1986, wrote about death metal and gangsta rap for Rolling Stone and Spin among other places, and was delighted that he managed to forge a career out of the professional eating of tacos. Gold died July 21, 2018.
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