Marianas Variety

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Our Oceania | An iconic Chamorro entrée

THERE’S no overstating the role that chicken kelaguen plays in any true Chamorro barbecue spread.

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That said, everyone has their own way of preparing this classic dish, from those who “cook” their chicken using lemon juice alone to those who prefer to fire up the grill. Here’s my Uncle Pete’s approach to this iconic Chamorro entrée: 

1. Marinate

Place 12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or a whole chicken, cut up) in a marinade of equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce. Add a few cloves of crushed garlic. Allow to soak for at least an hour.

2. Barbeque

Grill the chicken using charcoal, taking extra care not to overcook.

3. Cube

Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature, then remove fat, skin, and bones. Chop into half-inch cubes.

4. Mix

Add about two cups of grated coconut, two bunches of green onions (chopped into 1/8 inch pieces, using only the bulb-sided half of each stock), juice from four lemons and one lime, and crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Have extra of each ingredient on hand. Sample and re-proportion your mixture until you find the right balance, but be careful not to over-mix; your chicken should break down some, but you never want your kelaguen to get mushy.

For best results, pack tightly and store in refrigerator for a few hours to allow flavors to steep. Then remove and serve at room temperature with titiyas.