What do you do when it’s the first week of November, you have a ton of Christmas lights and a reasonably tall tree? – Hang the lights on and around the tree and grill like you’ve never grilled before of course!
We (my family and I) get to celebrate our first real Christmas this year in our new home so we wanted to make it special. Yes, this is how excited for Christmas we are. In our household, barbecue is special.
There’s barbecue and there’s barbecue. I’d like to believe what I did falls under the latter because I didn’t make the run-of-the-mill barbecue (meat+ketchup+soy sauce+vinegar+brown sugar)………..I made Inasal. *Cue gasp*
It was a lightbulb moment for me when I was juggling ideas for my barbecue. I really like the taste of Inasal – salty, sour, smoky, with a hint of sweetness. Mang Inasal’s variety is smoky and sweet and I enjoy drowning the chicken thigh (my all-time FAVORITE chicken part) in soy sauce, vinegar, chili and atsuete/achuete/annatto oil. Pure bliss.
I’ve always been curious how they make authentic Bacolod Chicken Inasal. I was perusing recipes and blog posts and it turns out, Market Man and Jun Belen have their own recipes for Chicken Inasal. They have the same components, albeit in different proportions: citrus juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, sugar and lemongrass.
Market Man swears that authentic Inasal (from Bacolod) is basted with a mixture of Star Margarine, achuete oil and pepper. One thing that’s striking with Inasal is the absence of soy sauce in the marinade. I guess it’s reserved for the dipping sauce then.
What I did for my version:
1. I went crazy with the garlic and ginger. And yeah, that’s one long lemongrass stalk.
2. I toasted the garlic and ginger from the marinade with the melted margarine, and then I added the achuete oil and the pepper to make the basting sauce. I alternately basted the meat with the achuete margarine mix and the marinade while it was grilling. Liquid gold.
3. I used chicken and pork
And let me tell you…..It tasted amazing.
Holy mother of god it tasted amazing!
I kid you not – I think I started a whole new family tradition when it comes to grilling. It was everything I could ever look for: salty-sour, smoky, succulent meat. The lemongrass imparts a fresh, citrus-y scent to the meat that makes it all the more indulgent. I didn’t even see the need for a dipping sauce.
Will I ever get to truly taste authentic Bacolod Inasal? Well writing this made me realize I should put that on my bucket list. Or better yet, make a totally new bucket list devoted to food! But for now, I’ll gladly settle for this recipe. And I say that with the most satisfied smile in the world.
Chicken (and Pork) Inasal (serves 6 – 8 )
because we have huge appetites, adjust as needed
6 – 8 pieces chicken leg and thigh + 1 kg pork belly
- 3 bulbs garlic (minced; you can use a food processor)
- a 3 inch knob of ginger (minced; you can use a food processor)
- juice of 4 lemons
- 3 / 4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons rock salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1 lemongrass/tanglad stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together and adjust taste to your preference.
- Add the meat and marinade for at least two hours or overnight.
- Grill the meat, alternately basting with the achuete-margarine mix and the marinade. Be careful not to let the meat burn.
- Serve with a steaming cup of rice. Dipping sauce (soy sauce, vinegar, chili) is optional. Enjoy!
for the Achuete – Margarine mix
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3-4 tablespoons annatto/achuete seeds
- 1 small tub Star Margarine (get the smallest tub out there)
- two spoonfuls of the garlic and ginger used in the marinade
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly cracked pepper
- In a small saucepan, heat the oil. Add the achuete seeds and allow oil to color. Once the desired rich orange color is achieved, remove from heat.
- Strain the oil into a cup to remove the seeds.
- Using the same pan, melt the margarine until hot and frothy.
- Add the garlic and ginger and allow to toast. Add the pepper.
- When done, remove from heat and use it for basting the meat.