~ The Secret to Barbecued Chicken with Crispy Skin (Shhhh!)

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Everyone thinks that when you barbecue, the sauce has to go on the outside of the chicken. It gets messy and burned in places, but that’s what we expect of barbecued chicken. Well, I have a secret for grilling chicken so it cooks with crispy skin and tender meat. I suppose you want me to tell you, huh?  I will, but reluctantly because it is such a good secret.

What you do is you loosen the skin from the meat and push some sofrito inside to fill the area between the skin and the meat. When you’ve filled your chicken pieces with sofrito, lightly massage the skin back into place. Arrange your chicken pieces on the hot grill (once the charcoals have turned white if you aren’t using a gas grill) with the sofrito side up. Cook until the underside is brown. Flip over the chicken pieces and cook the other side until brown. That’s it! Que facil – how easy.

Oh, I bet you want to know how to make sofrito. Living out here on the West Coast, I want to know as well. So, I will tell you how to make a simple West Coast version of sofrito, the magic ingredient that gives Puerto Rican food its unique flavor. Just take 3 chopped plum tomatoes, a whole bunch of cilantro, 2 green bell peppers, 1 red bell pepper,  1 sweet onion, 3 cloves of garlic, some ajies dulces peppers if you can find them but if not – don’t worry about it, some culantro or recao – which you also won’t be able to find on the West Coast unless you go to a Vietnamese market where it will be called Ngo Gai – don’t worry about it. You’re as close as you’re going to get out West. Put all that stuff in the blender or food processor, add some salt and pepper if you like, and voila! West Coast Sofrito. Use it to flavor anything and everything, soups, stews, meats, omelets, and freeze what you don’t use right away. Freeze it in small containers so you can take them out one by one to use. See, I have this all figured out.

Just do me a favor. If you get lazy and decide to go buy sofrito at the store, check the label because the most famous brand has MSG as one of the top ingredients and I really don’t want you to do that to your body.

Okay, so now go fire up the grill and make some crispy chicken. Everyone will ask you, “How’d you make it like that?” Remember, it’s a secret. You can tell if you want, or you can say, “I don’t know,” and seem amazing.

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