The Philippines has the best chicken in the world. I know that’s a bold statement, but I’m willing to back it up and share recipes. You still listening? Each bird I have tasted from Palawan to Cebu and back to Luzon has been tender, succulent, flavorful and finger lickin’ good, the kind of finger ‘lickin good that puts KFC to shame! After just a couple bites of my first ‘lechon manok’ I was on a quest to find the secrets of this delectable chicken.
I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this chicken so good, but every time I took a bite it was tough to keep from moaning out of immense enjoyment. The medley of fresh herbs and lemongrass provide an exotic taste and the lime adds a bright flavor that brings all the spices together. The meat is so tender and just falls off the bone dripping with succulent juices. Every bite is better than the last leaving you to wonder once you have polished off the entire chicken if you should purchase yourself another.
The first person I asked in Bohol after telling her that the chicken she just served me was the best I had ever had in my life, simply said “the chickens come to us like this we just roast them.” I understand, you don’t want to share your secrets I thought to myself. As I continued to ask around it seemed to me that the secret was two fold, calamansi limes and lemongrass. Two ingredients rarely used in kitchens in America, but cleary make all the difference in chicken preparation in the Philippines.
The recipe below outlines the process for making mouth-watering chicken. The key steps include marinating the chicken in soda or beer as the carbonation tenderizes the meat. Note that the longer you marinate the chicken the better, but don’t marinate for longer than overnight. The lemongrass and the lime add the final touches that put this chicken recipe over the top, enjoy!
1 whole chicken
3 tablespoons of brown or white sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of calamansi juice or lemon juice
1/2 cup of sprite, 7up or beer
2 cups of tanglad (lemon grass) for stuffing
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Marinate the whole chicken in soy sauce, calamansi juice, minced garlic, chopped onions, soda or beer, sugar and pepper.
- Let stand to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.
- Stuff the chicken cavity with tanglad (lemon grass).
- Cook chicken on grill or in oven until golden brown, if you have a rotisserie on your grill this is the best way to make this mouth-watering chicken