During one momentous summer, The Chef took over Skylight Books, hanging his L.A. street art photography; and his wife had a book reading of her just published historical and pop culture look at our world famous storied street, "Sunset Boulevard: Cruising the Heart of Los Angeles"-- all during the same time period. We felt like we owned the place for a day.
To celebrate afterward, we retired to another local favorite -- Mexico City Restaurant, a couple of blocks northeast on Hillhurst Avenue, for a pitcher of margaritas and our favorite entrees. My wife prefers huachinango veracruzano (red snapper in a tomato, green olives and capers sauce); while the Chef always orders the pollo en mente, or Mint Chicken.
This entree comes with a mixed green salad in an oil and sweet citrus vinegrette, a small bowl of charro pinto beans laced with fresh chopped tomato, chunks of ham and a whole jalapeno chile and, of course, half a roasted bird whose skin is perfumed and permeated with minced leaves of mint.
While some think Mexico City is past its prime, the pollo en mente entre never fails to please this Chef. Here is his humble attempt to replicate this mouthwatering experience; along with a slide show of the Chef's street art photography of Los Angeles that was hung in Skylight Bookstore.
A few slide show shortcuts. To play slide show: click on large middle "play" triangle - click on the bottom left small "play" triangle to pause (to see slide show as full screen, click on "4 arrows" box on lower right corner - hit "Esc" button on your keyboard to return to normal size viewing). Slide show takes a couple of seconds to start. Slide show lasts about 1 minute and 30 sec.
Ingredients for Polle En Mente
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves (ethnic markets sell one bunch for 99 cents or less; or, like the Chef, you can get them from your patio herb garden)
1 whole chicken - substitute chicken breast and/or leg quarters for individual servings (chicken on sale from 69c to $1.29 per lb. lately)
1/2 cup of 99.99 cent olive oil blend
1/2 cup of lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Charro Pinto Beans
1 16 oz. can pinto beans
1 whole tomato
2 slices of deli ham, ham pieces or sauteed bacon
1 whole jalapeno chile (or slices)
Any type of greens, combining iceberg, romaine and/or spinach
Salad dressing consisting of whisking 1/4 cup each orange juice and olive oil blend.
For a few seconds, blender together mint leaves, lime juice, olive oil and salt/pepper to a rough consistency. Using your fingers, rub minced mint under the skin of the bird and on the outside as well. Push gently between skin and meat of chicken, including breast meat and leg/thigh meat. Try not to tear the skin too much. If you have time, allow chicken to marinade for a few hours covered in the refrigerator.
Place bird on a rack in roasting pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 2 hours, depending on how big it is. The chicken is done when thigh juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
To prepare the beans, chop one whole tomato and a couple of slices of deli ham or sauteed bacon. Add to pinto beans with one whole jalapeno (the 99c only Store always sell canned pinto beans, deli ham, tomatoes and canned jalapeno chiles). Cook 10 minutes.
Whisk salad dressing ingredients and serve over greens.