Chicken Inasal | Grilling

Joshua Bousel

The Philippines presented me with the option of eating an almost all-pork diet everyday, every meal (ahem, lechon). While in theory this sounds fantastic, I found myself taking the few opportunities to throw other animals into the mix. This led me to discovering chicken Inasal—a basted grilled chicken originating from the city of Bacolod on Negros island in the Visayas.

After leaving the Philippines, all I really knew about the chicken was its name and taste, and that I needed to learn how to make it. So I turned to one of my favorite Filipino cookbooks, Memories of Philippine Kitchens, as a guide.

It started with making a batch of bright orange achiote oil, which creates the yellow hue on the finished chicken. The oil was then mixed with garlic, lemongrass, calamansi, vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper to form the marinade. This later doubled as a baste when roasting the chicken over indirect heat until it was almost cooked through. A final stint over direct heat finished the cook and crisped the skin.

The chicken itself was nice and juicy, but only faintly picked up the flavor of the marinade. The skin, on the other hand, was a tangy treat that boasted great Filipino flavor thanks mainly to the calamansi and vinegar. Overall, this was pretty much how I remembered the chicken from the Philippines (only I forgot to skewer the leg quarters before grilling), some decent dark meat that I was quite happy to eat, but at the same time, couldn't hold up to the crispy pata—fried pork knuckle—the rest of the family were relishing in, as I foolishly felt a need to vary my meals beyond the pig.