Chili-Rubbed Free Range Chicken with Guacamole and Pico De Gallo, Smothered Black Beans and Tortilla Threads

Total Time:
28 hr 30 min
2 hr
Inactive Prep:
24 hr
2 hr 30 min
2 to 4 servings


  • For the Brine:
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
      • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
      • 2 1/4 teaspoons chili powder
      • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
      • 4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
      • Guacamole, recipe follows
      • Grilled Pico de Gallo, recipe follows
      • Smothered Black Beans, recipe follows
      • Crispy Tortilla Threads, recipe follows
      • Vegetable oil, for frying
      • 4 white corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
      • Salt
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 3 Roma tomatoes, halved
      • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
      • 1 jalapeno, halved, stem removed, and seeded
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped cilantro leaves
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      • 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
      • 2 tablespoons minced red onions
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 (3/4-pound) ham hock
      • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
      • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
      • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
      • 1/2 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
      • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
      • Dash Worcestershire sauce
      • Hot sauce, to taste


      Put the hot water in a non-reactive bowl or other vessel large enough to hold a chicken and add the salt and sugar. Stir until dissolved and then add the herbs and garlic and set aside to cool.

      While the brine is cooling, debone the chicken into 2 pieces: Cut the chicken from the carcass by cutting the breast away from the breast bone and ribs and following the line of meat along the carcass down to the thigh. Cut away from the carcass. Repeat on the second side. Using a sharp boning knife, cut along the thigh bone and scrape the meat along the bone to completely remove the thigh bone. Do the same with the leg bone, following the leg bone down to the knuckle, scraping the meat away from the bone to expose the bone almost all the way to the knuckle. Using a sharp cleaver, make a clean cut close to the knuckle of the leg bone. There should be only this knuckle portion of the leg bone and the small wing bone remaining on each half of the chicken.

      Once the brine has cooled, add the chicken pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

      Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Combine the Essence, chili powder, cumin and coriander in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and stir to blend thoroughly.

      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

      Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and, when hot, add the chicken halves, skin side down, and sear, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Brush half of the spice mixture on the exposed (flesh side) of the chicken and then turn the chicken pieces over in the skillet and brush the remaining spice mixture over the browned side of the chicken. Transfer to the oven and cook until the chicken is golden brown and crispy and the juices run clear when pierced in the deepest part of the thigh, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

      Serve the chicken half over the Black Beans, garnished with the Guacamole, Grilled Pico de Gallo, and Crispy Tortilla Threads.

      Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

      Yield: 2/3 cup

      Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William Morrow, 1993.

      Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mash with a fork to combine. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 hours.

      Yield: about 3/4 cup

      In a medium saucepan heat enough vegetable oil to come 2-inches up the sides of the pan to 350 degrees F. When hot, add half of the tortilla threads and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, to taste.

      Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ham hock, onions, celery and carrots, and cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the beans, cilantro, cumin, and enough water to cover by 1-inch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beans are very tender and beginning to break down, about 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming any foam that rises to the surface.

      Remove from the heat. Remove and discard the ham hock. Add the lime juice, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the hot sauce to taste, transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

      Yield: 3 cups

      Preheat a grill to medium-high. When hot, lightly oil the grill ridges with some of the oil. Lightly coat the tomatoes, onion slices, and jalapeno using the remaining oil. Place the tomatoes, onion slices and jalapeno on the grill, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are lightly charred on all sides, turning occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool to room temperature.

      When the vegetables have cooled, chop the vegetables and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve at room temperature.

      Yield: about 1 cup