She so loco for her pollo
April 6, 2008 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me recreate El Pollo Loco chicken for a friend who misses it dreadfully.

One of my most fabulous friends has been lived outside her native California for years, and, besides the sun, what she misses most is El Pollo Loco chicken. When any of us travel there, we bring a cooler of their chicken back on the plane as a carry on. There must be a saner solution! I've only eaten there once or twice, and thought it was fine, though not swoon-worthy. We've tried a couple of the online copycat recipes which tasted fine to me, but she insists they didn't get it right. I've googled, but haven't found anything with reviews that say "this is it!". Any mefites with more EPL experience able to help me get it spot on?
posted by purenitrous to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you cooking your knock-off version over an open flame? It won't taste the same if you don't. EPL also uses quite a bit of salt.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:09 PM on April 6, 2008

Have you tried this recipe?

1 Chicken -- cut pieces w/skin
1/3 cup Lemon juice
1/3 cup Lime juice
1/3 cup Canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper

Briefly simmer the cut-up chicken in a deep-sided skillet, keeping pieces in single layer without crowding them, until the meat appears milky white and the juices run clear, no longer pink. Allow to cool in the broth, uncovered, while you prepare the basting sauce. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side up on broiler pan in single layer and baste with enough of the mixture to evenly coat skin side. Turn and baste other side. Turn again to skin side up and broil 6" from the heat, brushing with additional sauce every few minutes until skin is really crispy and golden brown, approximately 5 to 8 minutes for large pieces.
BASTING MIXTURE- Mix juices, oil, turmeric, salt and pepper. This makes enough to baste nine pieces.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 10:13 PM on April 6, 2008

Yes, we did grill it. I'll note the salt tip, though the recipe above doesn't seem to have an unusual amount.
posted by purenitrous at 10:29 PM on April 6, 2008

Gimmee an M!
Gimmee an S!
Gimmee a G!

Sorry. That's your missing ingredient.
posted by sourwookie at 10:37 PM on April 6, 2008

Bingo on the MSG -- that's providing the mysterious taste you can't identify, the thing at the back of your tongue that makes it tingle, and it's probably also the reason why some love it and some think it's yucky.
posted by incessant at 10:57 PM on April 6, 2008

I don't know if you've tried the recipe in "More Top Secret Recipes", but if not, it's available on Amazon and pages 38 and 39 are visible in their "search inside this book" feature. I've never had El Pollo Loco, and I've never made the recipe in the book, but some of the other recipes in that book have been pretty close.
posted by hades at 11:37 PM on April 6, 2008

It always tastes incredibly salty (too much so, actually) to me. And msg might explain why it tastes like it's been weirdly saturated with flavor.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:14 AM on April 7, 2008

don't they have any gross chicken places where you live?
just put it in an EPL bag. it's gotta be psychosomatic.....
posted by swbarrett at 8:45 AM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've not had that particular brand, but the marinades look a lot like Goya's Mojo Criollo. Add the MSG, and that's some fine chicken. We buy it by the gallon at our local latin grocery.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:25 AM on April 7, 2008

Where does your friend live now - maybe someone nearby would be able to recommend an alternative if they have had the "loc" before.
posted by doorsfan at 9:58 AM on April 7, 2008

I found this recipe for it from the book available at Recipe Secrets:

1 whole frying chicken - quartered
2 cups water
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 garlic clove
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 pinch of ground saffron

1. Combine water, garlic, salt, pepper, and saffron in a blender and blend on high speed for 15-20 seconds. Add lime juice and pineapple juice to the mix and blend for an additional 5 seconds.

2. Place mixture in a bowl. Add in chicken and let it marinate for one hour.

3. Preheat grill to a low flame.

4. Cook chicken on the grill over a low flame for about 45 minutes or until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn the chicken frequently as it cooks and try not to let the flames blacken the chicken before the center is cooked.

Serves 4-6

Hope this works for you!
posted by royalchinook at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2008

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