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Culinary SOS

Loco for Chicken

November 14, 1996|ROSE DOSTI

DEAR SOS: I'd love the recipe for El Pollo Loco's marinated chicken.


DEAR CARRIE: So would a million other readers. The recipe we call Loco Pollo is a mere facsimile meant to quell a riot from all the fans demanding a recipe. It's one of several versions we've printed and it comes close. You can fool around with the seasonings to see if you can approximate the original even more. Let us know.


Annatto powder, natural reddish-yellow coloring from a tropical tree, is available at most Latin grocery stores.

1/4 cup corn oil

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon annatto powder or few drops yellow food color

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) chicken, halved

Combine oil, butter, onion powder, garlic powder, annatto powder, cumin and lemon juice in large shallow pan. Add chicken halves, turning to coat well. Cover and marinate in refrigerator several hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from marinade and grill over medium coals or under broiler, 4 inches from heat source, until browned on both sides and meat is done, turning and basting frequently, about 25 minutes.

Cut chicken halves into pieces to serve with beans and rice, corn or flour tortillas and salsa, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

562 calories; 227 mg sodium; 149 mg cholesterol; 49 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 29 grams protein; 0.04 gram fiber.

Zucchini Velvet

DEAR SOS: Il Moro in West Los Angeles serves a superb zucchini soup. It's made with a vegetable puree, but you would swear it is a cream soup. Is it possible to get the chef to share this wonderful recipe?


DEAR COLT: Not a smidge of cream or butter (there is, however, no-cholesterol oil) and the result is velvety. Il Moro shows us how potato is used to achieve the starchy thickness necessary for a well-balanced, creamy soup.


5 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

8 zucchini, chopped

2 boiling potatoes, peeled and chopped

Salt, pepper

2 quarts chicken broth

1 bunch basil, chopped

1 bay leaf

Cook oil and onion in large saucepan over medium heat until softened. Add zucchini, potatoes and salt and pepper to taste and cook several minutes. Stir in chicken broth and cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft, about 50 minutes. Add basil and bay leaf and simmer 10 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. Puree soup in blender until smooth and creamy. Serve with garlic croutons, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 8 servings, without croutons, contains about:

130 calories; 430 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.73 gram fiber.

Crowned by Bananas

DEAR SOS: A few months ago I had a wonderful meal at Montecito Cafe in Santa Barbara. The crowning glory was a delicious, very moist banana cake. Would you persuade the restaurant owner to part with the recipe?


DEAR VIRGINIA: What a nice and simple cake for entertaining.


3 very ripe bananas, pureed (about 1 cup puree)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Vanilla or chocolate butter cream frosting, as desired

Toasted, chopped almonds, optional

Beat together banana puree, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and eggs by beating together until fluffy and pale in color. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. By thirds, add dry ingredients to puree alternately with egg mixture, beating each time until well blended.

Pour into buttered and floured parchment-lined 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool thoroughly in pan.

Split cake into 3 layers. Frost with desired frosting and sprinkle top of cake with chopped almonds, if desired.

Makes about 8 servings.

Each serving, without icing, contains about:

460 calories; 409 mg sodium; 100 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 70 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.27 gram fiber.

Chasen's Redux

DEAR SOS: In August you answered a request for carrot souffle as served at Chasen's restaurant with a similar recipe, stating that the requested recipe was gone, along with Chasen's.

Here for your reader is Chasen's Carrot Souffle from Betty Goodwin's book "Chasen's: Where Hollywood Dined, Recipes and Memories" (Angel City Press, 1996).


DEAR SHARON: What would we do without readers like you? Thank you for coming to the rescue.


1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced


3 eggs

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or 1/4 cup crushed cornflakes

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Cook carrots in boiling salted water until very tender. Puree carrots in food processor or blender with eggs, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla and nutmeg. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and process again. Turn mixture into buttered 1 1/2-quart souffle dish or straight-sided casserole and bake at 350 degrees until souffle is slightly puffed and golden, 35 to 40 minutes.

Sprinkle chopped walnuts and brown sugar over top of souffle. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter and return to oven 10 to 15 minutes longer or until top is crisp and golden.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 6 servings contains about:

196 calories; 92 mg sodium; 122 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.47 gram fiber.

* Plates and napkins from Pallets of Plates, South Pasadena.

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