In Quintana Roo, located in Mexico's Yucutan region, this chicken dish is quite popular. Bitter orange is the signature flavor but if you can't locate any it can be replaced with equal parts lemon juice and fresh squeezed orange juice.
- 1 lb dried red chiles
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large or 2 small banana leaves
- 4lbs of skinless, boneless chicken
- juice of 4 bitter oranges
- 4 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 sprig of epazote
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup butter
Cut the top off of each chile to remove the stem. Cut a slit down the side of the chile to split it open. The majority of the seeds will shake right out. Use your fingers or a spoon to scrape any additional seeds off and pull off any dried veins.
Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick they are. Use a spoon to occasionally push them under the water if they float too much. Remove the chiles and discard the water.
After they are rehydrated, place the chiles, vinegar, salt, and garlic into a blender or food processor. Blend until a thin paste forms. Add the orange juice and use the pulse feature to blend it just to mix the juice in.
Rinse the chicken and place it on a plate or a bowl or a dish. Use a fork to pierce the chicken pieces repeatedly. Pour the marinade over the chicken and make sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Cover, and place in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, discarding them. Slice the remaining tomato and set aside. Peel the onion and slice into rings, separating the rings out and set them aside.
Place chicken pieces on one side of the banana leaf and top with the sliced tomatoes, onions and epazote. Dot pieces of butter over the top of the chicken. Wrap the up banana leaf around the chicken to keep the moisture inside.
Tuck the banana leaf under to keep it wrapped, or use oven-safe string to tie it up.
Place wrapped chicken on the top rack of the oven over a large oven-safe bowl filled half-way with water. Steam for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of chicken pieces.
Remove chicken from leaf and serve with fresh tomato, chopped onion, chili sauce, and tortillas.