Dec 14

Pollo de Tapatio (Roast Chicken with Tapatio Salsa Picante)

One of the great things about chicken is that the meat provides a perfect median in which to absorb the flavors of the seasoning applied. Now add to this the hours needed to roast or smoke a whole chicken and the ability for the meat to embrace the flavors is even more impressive. There was no time to brine the chicken nor did I have fresh herbs. I was staring at my spices and condiments then the idea of using hot sauce came to mind. I was seeking a subtle flavor versus a knock off your socks experience so when staring at the Tabasco Hot Sauce and the Tapatio Salsa Picante, I went for the Tapatio Salsa Picante.

Ingredients for Pollo de Tapatio in a Bowl

For those that have never used Tapatio, it is a mild hot sauce with a pleasant flavor, that can be used liberally when cooking but not so hot that the experience goes from enjoyable to too hot because of a few too many drops were added to the meal. A part of my decision was that in addition to the main meal itself, I was going to be making a chicken pot pie with the leftover meat and did not want the heat from the hot sauce to overpower the contents of the pot pie filling.

After removing the giblets for the gravy, thoroughly washing the bird inside and out and patting it dry I prepared the hot sauce mixture:

  • 3 Tablespoons of Butter (softened)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Tapatio Hot Sauce

Instructions to Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Mix the ingredients together into a paste.

    Mixed Ingredients for Pollo de Tapatio

  2. With the sharp point of the knife, make a couple of slits through the skin of the breasts, legs and thighs. This operations is far from neat, but the purpose is to insert as much of the mixture as possible under the skin. The intent is to distribute as much of the mixture between the skin and the meat.

    Tapatio, Garlic and Butter Under the Skin of the Chicken

  3. Once you have placed as much of the mixture under the skin, then spread the remaining mixture on top of the chicken and liberally sprinkle more hot sauce on the skin of the whole chicken.

    Pollo de Tapatio Ready for Roasting

Roasting the Chicken:

For detailed steps on the time required and how to oven roast the perfect chicken, go to the following post: Roasting a Whole Chicken is Easy. The basic instructions are the following:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cover the whole chicken with aluminum foil and place in the oven
  3. For each pound of bird, roast for 20 minutes
  4. 30 minutes before the bird is planned to be fully cooked, remove the aluminum foil.
  5. Once the whole chicken is cooked, remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest 15 – 20 minutes before carving.

    Whole Roasted Chicken with Tapatio Piquant Sauce

    Roasted Pollo de Tapatio

The Pollo de Tapatio when I removed the bird from the oven had such an amazing aroma of spicy chilies, sharp garlic and warm butter. It was difficult to be patient and allow the roasted chicken to rest, but forced myself to not burn my fingers. Once the bird had rested, I began to carve the breast meat from the bone. The rubbing of the hot sauce mixture between the skin and meat and worked perfectly and with each slice there was the hint of hot sauce and garlic both visually and with each bite. It was a success contrived from wanting to do something different to season the chicken.

Roasted Chicken with Tapatio being Carved

There are an infinite number of seasoning combinations and I think it will be difficult to go back and repeat any one specific seasoning combination for the flavor options are without limits. Whether your whole chicken is brined with jalapenos, roasted with herbs or smoked with an aromatic wood, the results typically are better than average. Take a chance, look at the spices, herbs and condiments that you have in the kitchen and inspire yourself to make a great whole roasted chicken from non-traditional flavorings.



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  1. Jim

    Are you actually cutting into the meat so it is like pseudo injecting the bird? If it is just under the skin as the article says then why not simply peel up the skin and slide the rub under it?

    1. Bill

      Jim, I did not cut into the meat. My reason for not peeling back the skin which would be much simpler is that I wanted to created a pocket, to minimize the wet rub from leaking out while the chicken was roasting. Thank you for the question.

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