Pollo en Escabeche

garlic and herbs in pan
Lawrence Mouton/Getty Images
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4-5.

Escabeche, a dish in which meat and vegetables are cooked in an acidic vinegar sauce, is very popular in South America. Escabeche came to South America from Spain. Spanish escabeche evolved from a sweet and sour Persian dish that the Moors brought to Spain. So like many dishes in Latin American cuisine, escabeche has a long history.  Escabeche is a popular way to prepare fish, and ceviche (with its acidic flavor) is thought to be a derivation of Spanish seafood escabeche.

In the Andean countries, escabeche is often prepared by cooking the vegetables in vinegar (a mild form of pickling) and then mixing them with meat that was cooked separately. This recipe takes a shortcut, using only one pan, and is great for a busy weeknight. Serve the chicken with garlicky rice to soak up the sauce and roasted sweet potatoes for a sweet contrast.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken breasts, or assorted chicken pieces
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon aji panca chile pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons capers

How to Make It

  1. If possible, soak the chicken in salted water for several hours. (This brining process makes the chicken more tender). Rinse chicken pieces, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. If the chicken breasts are very plump and large, slice them in half horizontally.
  2. Thinly slice the onions into half moon shapes by cutting the onion in half from top to bottom. Place each half cut side down and make thin crosswise cuts to produce curved slices (a la pluma - like feathers). Mince the garlic.
  1. Add the olive oil to a heavy skillet over medium-high heat that's large enough to hold all of the chicken pieces. Place the chicken pieces in the skillet and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet, adding another tablespoon of olive oil if necessary. Add the aji panca, brown sugar, cumin, paprika, and garlic salt and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and fragrant, for about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken back to the skillet, nestling the pieces in with the onions, then add the chicken stock, wine, vinegar, and a bay leaf. Add a little more chicken stock if liquid seems too low. It does not need to completely cover the chicken. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, then uncover, add the capers, and simmer for about 5 minutes more. Check for doneness (meat should no longer be pink and juices should run clear). Continue to simmer until chicken is done. Remove bay leaf.
  4. Serve chicken over rice.