Botana de Pollo al Pastor represents the very best way meals are served here along the Texas border. A bounty of flavors, textures, spicy and savory, this meal is a touch of home.
What is a “Botana“?
The word “botana” means an appetizer or snack. I think the term came from little bits of food that otherwise would have been discarded (the word “botar” means to chuck out or to waste.) The small bites are reassembled on a large platter and made to look like a feast. And since feasting is my favorite past time, you can tell that I have always been a fan of botanas!
You can make botanas out of anything – the most popular is a botana with grilled fajitas, sometimes mixed with grilled chicken or shrimp. A botana doesn’t necessarily have to be meat focused either. As long as the botana has savory bites mixed with spicy, salty and cheesy, it is a true botana.
Botana de Pollo al Pastor
Botana de Pollo al Pastor is the combination of several recipes – I am using a marinade that I reserve for Tacos al Pastor, usually made with pork. Chile guajillo is very mild in flavor, but the color that it gives to roasted meats is simply dazzling. I grilled the marinated chicken over a mesquite fire, but you can just as easily use a gas grill or an oven broiler. And of course you need a batch of Cebollas en Escabeche or pink pickled onions for the perfect bite of acid…My fave!
Not gonna lie, my very favorite part of the botana is the quesadillas. Here at home, lots of restaurants use easy melting processed cheese. I should hate it, but I lurv every crispy, salty and gooey bite of those artificial cheese tacos. There I said it. Now you have my permission to go rogue and eat some artificial cheese too.
Botana de Pollo al Pastor is a great introduction to the wonderful border world of botanas. Make one botana, and you will be finding way to assemble all of your meals botana style!Print
Botana de Pollo Al Pastor
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
1 dried chile guajillo
½ cup apple cider vinegar (120ml)
1 large clove garlic
¼ tsp ground turmeric (2g)
½ tsp black or cayenne pepper (1g)
½ tsp sea salt (2g)
2 oz fresh pineapple (60g) or ¼ cup pineapple juice (60ml)
2lbs. chicken leg quarters (1kg)*
1 lb. bulb onions, cleaned (480g)
1 lb. mixed sweet peppers, skewered (480g)
2 ears of corn, cleaned and cut in half
1 pineapple, peel removed and cut into slices
4 tbsp. avocado or vegetable oil (60ml)
1 recipe cebollas en escabeche (pink pickled onions)
¼ cup queso fresco for garnish (38g)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (30g)
2 avocados, cut into halves
12 corn tortillas, 6″dia warmed (15cm)
4 oz grated cheese for quesadillas (115g)
Remove the seeds and stem from the chile guajillo. Toast lightly over the open flame of a stove burner or under a broiler for 5-10 seconds. Remove and allow to cool.
Combine the toasted chile guajillo, pineapple (or juice,) vinegar, garlic, turmeric, ground pepper and salt in the container of a blender & puree.
Place the leg quarters in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover and place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Brush the chicken so that the meat is completely covered in the marinade.
Heat your outdoor grill or the broiler in your oven. Cook the chicken on your grill or under the broiler until the internal temperature registers 160°F (71°C) on a meat thermometer.
Brush the onions, sweet peppers, corn and pineapple slices with the avocado oil. Grill or broil the vegetables alongside the chicken as it cooks. The chicken should take 40 minutes to cook slowly and thoroughly, while the vegetables and pineapple should take about 15-20 minutes. Turn the chicken, vegetables and pineapple so that they cook evenly.
Once the chicken, vegetables and pineapple are grilled, remove from the heat source and allow to cool slightly on a carving board. Meanwhile, make 4-6 quesadillas with the corn tortillas and grated cheese. You will have extra tortillas left over for making tacos.
Serve with the botana board garnished with pink pickled onions, queso fresco, cilantro, avocado slices, lime wedges and warm corn tortillas on the side.
I used split leg quarters for this botana – split horizontally down the middle of the bone, a split leg quarter cooksw more quickly than regular leg quarters. But, they can also dry out more quickly. Ah well, choose wisely…