Super Grains: Amaranth with Roast Chicken (Pollo Al Horno)

Today we discuss the second of our super grains. The first was Pearl Barley (see post of  09/20/14). This one is on amaranth (or amaranthus), an ancient grain that was cultivated in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Nowadays it's cultivated as a leaf vegetable in Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, India and East Africa. But outside of such tropical countries it was virtually unknown until recently. At one time it was the main grain consumed by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conquest. After that conquest, the cultivation of the amaranth seed was outlawed. And it wasn't until the 1970s that it was revived in Mexico as a popular snack mixed with chocolate or puffed rice.

First of all, apart from being tasty, amaranth is good for you. It's a good source of protein, and is rich in amino acids, vitamin A,C, thiamine, calcium and iron. It makes a great side dish or even a main course. In Greece it is served as a popular dish called vlita (or vleeta), where it's mixed with olive oil and lemon juice and eaten as a salad. Amaranth is very easy to cook. And in this recipe I've combine it with a Puerto Rican favorite, Pollo Al Horno (Roast Chicken). Most recipes for amaranth call for measurements of 1 cup of the grain to 1 1/2 to 3 cups water or chicken broth. For those who want a more porridge-like consistency, they may use more water. I like amaranth tender but drier, so my measurement is 1 1/2 cup amaranth to 3 cups water. Again, it's an individual choice. Either way, the recipe is great. You won't be disappointed.

                                              AMARANTH WITH ROAST CHICKEN
                                                             (POLLO AL HORNO)

1 3 to 3 1/4 pounds roasting chicken, cut into generous bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 cups chicken brioth or water
1 cupo amarnath

1. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl or cup, mix olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, tarragon  and crushed garlic. Pour over chicken, rubbing seasoning thoroughly into the skin. Cover bowl and let stand 15 minutes or, better still, overnight. You can also place the chicken in a large zip-lock bag and marinate that way.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove chicken from marinade and place in a shallow roasting pan. Turn once during roasting, and bake until golden brown and juices are no longer pink, about 30 minutes. 
4. While chicken is cooking, bring water to a rolling boil in a heavy saucepan or pot. Add amaranth, cover, lower heat, and simmer until grain is tender and all the water has been absorbed, 20-25 minutes. You can serve the chicken over the amaranth or on the side
    Yield: 4 servings.

Labels: , , , , , , ,