Chicken Baked in Banana Leaves

The banana leaves used in this Mexican main-dish recipe impart a unique aroma and flavor. It's worth the extra effort to find them at your local Hispanic market.



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Ingredients
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    1   tablespoon 
    annatto seeds or 1 Tbsp. chili powder
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    1   teaspoon 
    whole black peppercorns
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    4   
    whole allspice
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    1/2  teaspoon 
    dried oregano
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    1/2  teaspoon 
    cumin seed
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    1   teaspoon 
    finely shredded orange peel
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    3/4  cup 
    orange juice
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    1/4  teaspoon 
    salt
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    2   
    cloves garlic, minced
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    1   cup 
    chopped onion (1 large)
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    2 1/2 - 3   pounds 
    chicken thighs (with bone) and/or drumsticks, skinned
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    Banana leaves
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    1   pound 
    red onions, sliced and separated into rings (about 3-1/2 cups)
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    1/4  cup 
    white vinegar
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    1/2  teaspoon 
    salt
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    1/2  teaspoon 
    dried oregano, crushed
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    1/4  teaspoon 
    cracked black pepper
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    2   
    cloves garlic, minced

Directions
1.
For marinade, place the annatto seeds, whole peppercorns, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and cumin seeds in a spice grinder. Cover; grind to a fine powder. In a small bowl stir together the ground spice mixture, orange peel, orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 cloves garlic, and onion.
2.
Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag set in a deep bowl. Pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat chicken with marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.
3.
Cut banana leaves into four to six 12x9-inch rectangles. Loosely roll up the rectangles and place in a steamer basket over, but not touching, boiling water. Cover and steam for 20 to 30 minutes or until leaves are soft and pliable. Remove and cool.
4.
Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place one or two chicken pieces on each banana leaf rectangle. Wrap banana leaves around each serving of chicken. Overwrap with foil and seal tightly. (If banana leaves are unavailable, wrap chicken in foil rectangles and seal tightly.) Place wrapped chicken pieces in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 375 degrees F oven for 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into chicken registers 180 degrees F.
5.
Meanwhile, for pickled red onions, place onion rings in a 3-quart stainless-steel or nonstick saucepan; add boiling water to cover. Let stand 1 minute. Drain well. Return onion rings to saucepan; stir in vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, cracked black pepper, and 2 cloves garlic. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove from heat; transfer onion mixture to a small glass bowl. Let stand until cool (about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally. To serve, carefully remove foil from chicken. Serve chicken in banana leaves along with onions. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Make Ahead Tip
  • Prepare pickled red onions as directed. Cover and chill for up to 2 days. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 24 hours.
Nutrition information
Per Serving: cal. (kcal) 266, Fat, total (g) 6, chol. (mg) 134, sat. fat (g) 2, carb. (g) 17, Monosaturated fat (g) 2, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 2, fiber (g) 3, sugar (g) 8, pro. (g) 33, vit. A (IU) 389, vit. C (mg) 21, Thiamin (mg) 0, Riboflavin (mg) 0, Niacin (mg) 8, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 1, Folate (g) 44, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (g) 0, sodium (mg) 490, Potassium (mg) 569, calcium (mg) 61, iron (mg) 2, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
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