This Cricket Salt Roast Chicken is anything but basic!! Robust and rubbed with cricket salt – Yes, salted crickets – This chicken is bold, aromatic, and perfect for Sunday dinner!
I’m not into fancy restaurants and expensive tasting menus. I don’t flock to the hottest chef’s new eatery, salivating over their brand new culinary situation or super cool cooking technique. I’m a simple chick. I dig obscure hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I’ll take a restaurant tucked between a hardware store and a bodega any day. I will happily eat at a grocery store which sells food in the back, through a door. A restaurant so nondescript you pass by it.
La Morada Restaurant in the Willis Ave section of the Bronx does not totally fit this description. With its huge royal purple sign, “La Morada” emblazoned in large letters, this place is hard to miss. I’m not a Bronx native. And if you’ve seen me walk, I only look straight ahead. My only goal is getting to my destination. So yes, I must have walked by this restaurant a few times without noticing it. I, like many people searching for good food, found La Morada through Yelp.
Our crew had recently eaten at a fantastic hole-in-the-wall Italian spot – A spot with mismatched tables, chairs, and décor. The owner was rumored to be super rude, like Soup Nazi rude and we love that shit. The eatery was super casual, just my steeze. I spent the next day compiling a list of well-reviewed hole-in-the-wall restaurants and La Morada was on the list, in the Bronx, and close to me.
I dragged my son to La Morada one cold winter evening to an empty restaurant of mismatched tables and chairs. There was a bookcase with a large array of books and some super cool art hanging on the royal purple walls. We sat, ordered drinks – And when those drinks were brought to us in olive jars instead of glasses, I was in love. The Oaxacan cuisine was fantastic. If I remember correctly I had one of their mole dishes and was thoroughly impressed. For the next five years, my family continued to frequent this restaurant. The food and service never disappoint. Owned and ran by the Saavedras, a family of immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life, La Morada makes you feel at home. If it were furnished with mismatched couches, I’d probably never leave.
When putting a face to modern day immigrants, legal or otherwise – I look no further than the owners of La Morada. These are not the drug dealers, rapists, or criminals portrayed on TV. This is a hardworking family who embodies the very ideals this country was founded on. When you hear the phrase ‘pull up your bootstraps and work hard’, this is who that phrase had in mind.
I will not partake in partisan arguments or talk smack about this new administration. I say this because I can wax poetic all day and I’m easily triggered these days. I will instead shift your focus to this Cricket Salt Roast Chicken.
Yah, you read that right. Salted crickets all up in this piece with chicken grease… Um… Butter. Ugh, just flow with me.
So the cricket salt. From Oaxaca Mexico by mail, from abuelita. I have a hookup if you’re interested. She’s a little girl, the youngest of the Saavedra children. You can find her after school in a corner of the restaurant (after she’s completed her homework, of course) packing ground crickets mixed with salt in little glass vials which she flairs with ribbon and glued-on jewels. Entrepreneur-ing and shit.
My husband brought home four vials of cricket salt last month. Immediately I thought chicken. OK, not true – I thought cocktails. Chicken is something we can all eat, so… Chicken it was. Have you ever eaten an insect? If not, you’re kinda missing out. Roasted insects have this nutty flavor to them. If I have to compare the flavor of crickets, I’d say the flavor is extremely close to sunflower seeds.
So the chicken. Cut and laid flat on a Pyrex dish. Seasoned with cricket salt and adobo. This Latina can’t live without her adobo. Butter. A whole stick of it. Onions and garlic. I do love my aromatics. Paprika and honey. Mmmhmm – Honey.
Add grape tomatoes and the tiniest potatoes you can find. Toss that in the dish. Tightly cover and roast in the oven at 375° Fahrenheit. Don’t forget to baste that bird. Baste like every 15 minutes. Baste that sucka’ in its own cricket salted super flavored honeyed juices.
This bird is super juicy. Magnificent. The honey sweetens it lightly and the cricket salt gives it a super nice nutty flavor. It’s my Sunday dinner chicken situation until I get some eye rolls. I suspect I never will.
Holla at me if you want some cricket salt. There’s a little girl in the corner of my favorite Mexican restaurant. Packing up cricket salt. Waiting to sell you some flava’.
Cricket Salt Roast Chicken
- Whole chicken - 1 (3lb) chicken
- Unsalted butter - ½ cup (1) stick, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- Olive oil - 4 tablespoons, divided
- Red onion - 1 large
- Garlic cloves - 5, thinly sliced
- Adobo - 1 ½ teaspoons
- Cricket salt - 2 tablespoons
- Paprika - 1 tablespoon, divided
- Onion powder - ½ teaspoon
- Honey - ¼ cup
Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit and set aside a 9x13 inch Pyrex dish.
Remove any neck parts and gizzards from the chicken and discard or freeze for chicken stock. Rinse the chicken, both inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. Leave skin on. We need that skin.
Place chicken on a cutting board breast side up and with kitchen shears or a chef’s knife, slice chest cavity lengthwise through the breastbone. Flip the chicken over (breast side down) and cut about a 1 inch in width x 2 inch rectangle lengthwise from the backbone. Save the piece for chicken stock. The chicken should now lay flat.
Cut unsalted butter into 1 inch pieces and place half the butter on the bottom of the Pyrex dish. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Slice the red onion and 3 sliced garlic cloves and place over the butter. Season chicken on both sides with adobo, cricket salt, half the paprika, and the onion powder. Place the chicken cut side down over the butter/onion/garlic mixture. Pour the honey over the chicken and rub lightly. Sprinkle remaining paprika, sliced garlic cloves, unsalted butter, and olive oil. Pour the new potatoes and tomatoes along the sides of the Pyrex dish.
Tightly cover the Pyrex dish with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and bake for about one (1) hour, basting the chicken every 15 minutes or so. After about an hour remove aluminum foil. Continue roasting the chicken uncovered for 35 minutes to an hour (depending on your oven), basting every 15 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden.
Remove Pyrex dish from the oven, allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes, and serve over or alongside your favorite side dish.