Benji’s Chicken Pibil
by Blake Keeley, Chef, Benji's Cantina, Austin, Texas
- 1 whole Smart Chicken, trussed
- 4 ounces achiote paste*
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 sprig Mexican oregano
- 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ fresh orange, quartered
- ½ onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large banana leaf**
- *Achiote paste is a Mexican spice blend. It can be found at spice stores, Mexican markets, or in the ethnic foods aisle at your grocer.
- **Banana leaves are used to encase the chicken (which was traditionally buried in a fire or pit) as it cooks. They also add a distinctly earthy flavor. Tea leaves or cabbage leaves can be substituted.
To make the pibil marinade, combine achiote paste, juices, bay leaf, paprika, and oregano in a blender until smooth. Rub Marinade all over the chicken and inside the cavity. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Fill a large Dutch oven with about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Fold the banana leaf and place it inside the Dutch oven to steam. Unfold the banana leaf onto a work surface and cut in half. Stuff the chicken cavity with the orange, onion, and garlic. Place the chicken in the center of one of the banana leaves and wrap the leaf around the bird. Take the remaining banana leaf and wrap it in the other direction. Remove the water from the Dutch oven and place the wrapped chicken inside, cover. Cook in the oven for 1 hour until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Remove the chicken from the banana leaf and cut into 8 pieces, then return it back to the cooking liquid left in the Dutch oven. Keep warm in the sauce until ready to serve.