Red Pepper Taxicab Chicken

January 11, 2012


Author Notes: This chicken originated in a taxi ride with my young daughter. When televisions were first placed in the back seats of New York taxis (yes, we have TVs in our taxis -- we can't survive without a screen for the length of a car trip, apparently), the featured news programs used to broadcast neighborhood restaurant "reviews." There was a review of a Brazilian restaurant in the borough of Queens that featured a chicken slathered in a garlic- red pepper purée and thrown on the asador as flames leapt up around the chicken parts. We could almost smell and taste it. We started to get hungry. When we got home, I was able to access the segment online and have another look. Since that time, I have made the marinade many times, but numerous searches online have failed to turn up that video, the name of the restaurant, or the recipe. Over time I've added the bay leaves and Aleppo pepper. Fresh bay leaves are completely different from dried and add indescribable flavor. You can follow the recipe for one bird or three and extra purée can be frozen. Well worth a NYC taxi fare!creamtea

Food52 Review: WHO: Creamtea is the mastermind behind all-star recipes like Moroccan Guacamole Toast and Glazed Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza.
WHAT: A roasted chicken recipe inspired by a commercial in a taxi that has us thinking we should take cabs more often.
HOW: Slather a purée of bell peppers, garlic, and fresh bay leaves over whole chickens or chicken parts. Roast in the oven until your chicken is golden-brown and the purée has magically transformed into a sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We would eat this garlic-red pepper purée on just about anything, but it’s irresistible over a perfectly-roasted chicken. The bell peppers and red wine vinegar add balance and depth, but it’s the Aleppo pepper and fresh bay leaves that make it so much more than your standard sauce.
The Editors

Serves: 12 to 14

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons (optional) if using whole chicken
  • Three 3 1/2 pound chickens, whole or cut-up, rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 2 ripe red bell peppers, medium to large, seeded, quartered, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and coarsely chopped (remove the germ or sprout inside each clove, if desired)
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 fresh bay leaves, central vein removed and torn into pieces
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons Aleppo pepper, if desired, or a small pinch Cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons sea salt or more, according to taste
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F and lightly salt the chicken or parts. If cooking whole birds, place one lemon half per bird inside each cavity and tie together the legs with kitchen twine. Tie another piece of twine around the upper section, including the wings, to promote even cooking.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the next 6 ingredients, from the bell peppers to the Aleppo pepper. Process until puréed, scraping down the sides as necessary
  3. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream until incorporated.
  4. For whole chickens: place them breast-side down on the rack of a roasting pan, slather the backs generously with the purée. At this point, you can refrigerate for an hour or so to allow flavors to permeate the chicken.
  5. Spoon the sauce from the bottom of the pan on top of the chicken right before roasting. Pour some water into the roasting pan about 1 inch deep to prevent the sauce from burning. Roast the whole birds in lower third of oven the until backs are browned, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the chickens breast-side up on rack and slather with more sauce from the bottom of the pan. Return to oven and roast until done, about 45 additional minutes, adding more water to the bottom of pan as needed. You may need to lower the heat to 350º F if the sauce is starting to overcook or burn.
  6. Check for doneness: an instant-read thermometer should read 165º F in the thickest part of the thigh. Pierce the breast meat with a skewer -- juices should run clear -- or hold up the whole birds vertically with a pair of tongs (use care) and allow the juices from cavity to drip into pan. Juices should be clear, not pink.
  7. For chicken parts: If using chicken parts, place them in a roasting pan (or two) in one layer. Slather generously with purée. At this point, you can refrigerate the chicken pieces for an hour or so to allow flavors to permeate. Roast in lower third of oven, lowering temperature to 350º F as necessary, until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer registers 165º F.
  8. Transfer to a heated platter. Pour juices into a fat separator and pour into a pan set over low heat to warm briefly if desired. Carve or divide into parts and serve with pan juices on the side.

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Reviews (32) Questions (1)

32 Reviews

LE B. December 28, 2015
ct, as usual I have a p.s. here. Here's what illumination Kenji Alt Lopez puts on the fresh/dried bay leaf topic:<br /><There's another very important consideration when choosing fresh versus dried bay leaves.<br /><br />I'm in the habit adding a bay leaf to my béchamel sauce and once made the mistake of throwing a fresh bay leaf in there. I figured, fresher is better, right? I ended up with a sauce that tasted like I'd tipped a bottle of cold medicine into it. What gives?<br /><br />Turns out that in this country, dried bay leaves are imported (generally from Turkey) and fresh bay leaves come from California, almost universally. And in fact, the two types of bay leaves are not even directly related. Fresh California bay leaves come from a tree that has a decidedly more potent eucalyptus flavor that can easily dominate a dish if you're not careful, while Turkish bay is much milder and more nuanced. In fact, bay leaves are the one case where I'd advocate against ever using fresh, unless you know what you're getting into.*<br /><br />Edit: *or unless you know that you're getting real mediterranean bay laurel, not California bay.<br /><br />Long story short? Yes, you should use bay leaves. No, fresh bay leaves cannot be substituted for dry. Yes, you should store them in the freezer, and finally, yes, I can tell you my favorite bay leaf-forward recipe: it's this Jerk Chicken, where the chicken gets cooked on a full-on bed of smoking bay leaves.><br />What do you think about that? And where do you find fresh bay leaves? Indian markets? I just tasted a leaf from a Holiday garland, and it has no aroma whatsoever, so I'm guessing that bay laurel is unrelated to the Turkish or CA. bay leaves too.
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 4, 2016
Yes, LBF I know about the bay leaf "issue". I used to bring back stems of fresh bay from my parents' home (I once bought them a small bay tree from a well-known plant catalogue that, years later, now towers over us all). Although they are in California, I know that it is not a "California Bay". I no longer have to bring back branches of bay, because my local Whole Foods and Fairway carry them along with other fresh herbs, in small "clamshell" containers, so they are easily obtained here in New York. I think that bay laurel is in fact Turkish Bay. Although I think at one time ATK did a "taste test" of fresh vs. dry leaves and found no difference, I feel differently. The fresh have a wonderful rounded "green" aroma when cooking and in the final product, without the harsh, almost clove-like spice scent and flavor of the dried version (which I don't care for). I do use the dry at times, in stews etc., and I think it could be used here, sparingly, if fresh is not obtainable.
 
LE B. December 28, 2015
We all know that it's pretty impossible to keep up with EVERYthing on 52, and I missed this, ct, when it was a finalist. But as soon as I saw its title and photo today, followed by 'red vinegar' and 'aleppo pepper', I was yours completely! My only contribution is that it might take up less frig space (always at a premium around here) if the chicken parts and marinade were put together in a ziploc bag rather than their roasting pan.<br />ct, my strong inclination is to marinade overnight , grill it and serve the marinade, boiled and reduced, on the side. In your honest opinion, do<br /> you think that's a good idea, or just stick with it as it's written? Thx much for yet another inspiring recipe, ct.
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 4, 2016
I definitely think that you could grill chicken parts after marinating overnight. I'm not experienced with grilling though--we live in New York and it's not permitted in our building (though I know that people do it anyway....when we first moved in there was a big brouhaha, building security knocked loudly on the door and raced through our apt. in force, checking the terrace on the report that we were barbecuing--which we weren't. Figuring it was a grave fire hazard and explicitly forbidden, I reported barbecue smoke a few weeks later from a neighboring apartment--they yawned--ho-hum!--and ignored it. Go figure!). I think it would be delicious either way. What interested me was the idea of grinding down the fresh peppers rather than roasted. It's bright, colorful and delicious (and one less step than first roasting).
 
sansan123 July 10, 2014
Think I may have come up with a solution to the browning problem but 1st. yummmm. love the marinade though since no fresh bay, used some fresh cilantro. super yumm. followed the recipe up to the last 10 minute of cooking and then whacked it on the kettle bbq. The skin crisped up nicely and the sauce was allowed extra time to reduce on it's own in the oven or you could go stovetop with it.
 
Author Comment
creamtea July 10, 2014
Thanks sansan123, and thanks for trying my recipe! I sometimes brown chicken parts under the broiler the last few mins. (And by the way, if using parts, you don't have to add water to the bottom of the pan, only whole chickens on a roasting rack, to avoid burning). If using whole chickens on a rack, it shouldn't be a problem, it browns perfectly.
 
wendy W. July 9, 2014
I want to try this sauce on boneless skinless chicken breast and serve over cornmeal with side of green beans. Think it would work ?
 
Author Comment
creamtea July 9, 2014
Wendy, I like to get my chicken pieces nice and brown in the oven; you don't want the cutlets to get too dry or tough in the cooking process! Bone-in breasts may work better. But, it's worth a try; it's a delicious sauce/marinade.
 
wendy W. August 27, 2014
I made just the sauce and froze it in popsicle molds so I can take out just one at a time. It's great over turkey patties and brown rice. I really love the tartness of the sauce.<br />
 
Author Comment
creamtea December 9, 2014
Sounds great! You can also freeze in ice cube trays for smaller portions.
 
Congrats! Sounds fantastic!
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 23, 2014
Thank you, M&M!
 
THE M. June 22, 2014
Merci beaucoup. Et vous aussi!
 
Bernie June 22, 2014
Ah well, chacun à son goût. Bon appetit!
 
THE M. June 21, 2014
I'm an avid picnic goer. I don't understand any of the objections with respect to it being suitable for picnic food. It's classic picnic fare! It's delicious hot or at room temperature. Just make sure you have the right serving pieces - and containers. Try a roomy picnic hamper, containers with tight lids, with the red pepper taxicab chicken, some side dishes dessert and beverages, and you're bound to have a delightful time!
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 23, 2014
I agree, The Future MBA, and it should be noted that there are many container options available nowadays that make it easy to transport. I hope you try my recipe!<br />
 
Bernie June 19, 2014
I agree, Chefjune; looks wonderful and is quite possibly delicious but how well does it work under typical "picnic" conditions?
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 20, 2014
Just pack it up in Pyrex and bring some napkins. If you want to lick your fingers, I won't tell. It's good.
 
ChefJune June 19, 2014
Congrats, creamtea. this looks delicious. but it seems an odd choice for picnic food. Looks like it's kind of messy to eat by hand, and is meant to be served hot. Or did I miss something?
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 19, 2014
June, thanks for the good wishes. I'm pretty fearless when it comes to our annual picnic, and I'll bring anything from bean chili to this chicken dish, well-wrapped. Pyrex is my friend!! :)
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 19, 2014
Thanks cookbookchick for testing my recipe (and, thanks for the kudos!)
 
Rachel June 9, 2014
Aw, humbug! The only one of the community pick finalists I was stoked to recipe test no longer needs them!
 
Author Comment
creamtea June 9, 2014
Awww thanks Rachel!
 
mj.landry February 6, 2014
This looks really delicious and different! I always get sucked into the TV's when in NYC taxi's…never was inspired to cook anything though :-)
 
Author Comment
creamtea February 6, 2014
Try it, it's so good (if I do say so myself)!
 
anotherfoodieblogger April 29, 2013
This sounds really good! I will have to try this recipe, for sure! I love me some spicy!
 
Author Comment
creamtea April 30, 2013
I hope you do!
 
boulangere January 11, 2012
Harsh isn't on the radar. Raw, nope. I'll call you when in NY.
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 12, 2012
I'd love that!
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 11, 2012
Thanks, boulangere! Hope you try it! Don't worry if the raw red-pepper puree tastes harsh and unpromising. It'll be good when cooked!
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 11, 2012
thanks boulangere! Don't worry if the raw puree tastes harsh and unpromising. It's good!
 
boulangere January 11, 2012
Ay yi yi! It's clearly worth the price of a plane ticket for a ride in one of your taxis. No telling what I'd learn. This looks amazing, wonderful, beautiful. Sunday tends to be chicken day here, so my menu is set. Thank you!