Latest Stories


Chicken ‘relleno’



It was hard to tell which was more interesting: the lessons in cooking or the lessons in living.

Both were dished out with equal aplomb by Dr. Efren “Boy” Vasquez during a recent class on Noche Buena feasts at the Maya Kitchen Culinary Center. Formerly one of the country’s top obstetrician-gynecologist, Doc Vasquez is also the owner of the hugely popular Café Juanita and the recently opened Haru Sushi Bar and Restaurant. Which is probably why he is as conversant in social affairs as he is in affairs of the kitchen.

“Keep in touch with the child within you,” he advised while demonstrating how to prepare ratatoy, the vegetable dish that he based on the French ratatouille. Without missing a beat, he shifted to cooking mode and told the audience to put the fresh tomatoes and fried capers when the vegetables are almost cooked, to add some crunch to the dish.

“You have to nurture your relationship with your husband when the children are already grown,” he said to the women in the group. Just as quickly, he told them to use a deep pan when cooking the halayang mangga because the mixture sputters.

Aside from the aforementioned dishes, Doc Vasquez also demonstrated how to prepare other customer favorites in Café Juanita: bringhe, rellenong manok, lengua and baked salmon. For every cooking tip he dispensed, there was a corresponding food for thought, and sometimes, with his inimitable sense of humor, he’d also crack a joke or two.

Certainly no one went home hungry that day, whether for food, for laughter or for bits of wisdom. At the end of the class, Maya Kitchen served all the dishes demonstrated by doc—and every bite was as delicious and satisfying as the lessons they learned.

Here’s Doc Vasquez’s recipe for chicken relleno, which you may want to serve for your Noche Buena feast this Christmas.

Café Juanita’s Chicken Relleno

1 whole chicken (about 1.3 k)

3 tbsp seasoning or soy sauce

3 pc calamansi

½ k ground pork

1 pack (250 g) sweet ham, chopped

¾ c pickle relish

150 g (around 1 c) raisins (See tips.)

2 tbsp ketchup

12 pc green olives, chopped

150 g cheddar cheese, grated

4-6 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 small can (around 142 g) Vienna sausage

1 pc hard-boiled egg

1 pc chorizo de bilbao

Debone the chicken, leaving it in one whole piece (or you can have the chicken vendor do this for you when you buy the chicken). Marinate the chicken in seasoning and juice of calamansi for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Mix together the ground pork, ham, pickle relish, raisins, olives, cheese and the beaten eggs. Season with pepper. Stuff the mixture into the deboned chicken. Insert the Vienna sausages, hard-boiled egg and chorizo within the chicken. Sew the opening of the chicken to enclose the stuffing completely.

Wrap the stuffed chicken in buttered aluminum foil and arrange in a baking dish. Cook in the preheated oven for one-and-a-half hours or until chicken and stuffing are fully cooked.

Open the foil and set the oven to broil. Broil the chicken for around 15 minutes or until the surface of the chicken is golden brown.

Remove the chicken from the baking dish and reserve the drippings for making the gravy (recipe follows). Cool the chicken slightly then slice and serve with the gravy.

For the gravy:


50-100 g  ( ¼-½ c) butter

½ c flour

½-1 c soup stock

1 chicken broth cube

Drippings from the cooked chicken

Ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a thick saucepan over low heat and slowly incorporate the flour. Pour in soup stock, little by little, stirring continuously so lumps don’t form. Add chicken broth cube and drippings from the chicken. Blend well until sauce is smooth. Season with pepper. Stir and heat through. Serve as gravy for the chicken.

For more tips, recipes and stories, visit the author’s blog at www.normachikiamco.com and facebook fan page www.facebook.com/normachikiamco. Follow on Twitter@NormaChikiamco.

Cook’s tips:

From Doc Vasquez: Before using the raisins, soak them in brandy for several minutes. Then dredge them lightly in flour before adding to the ground pork mixture.

Inspect the deboned chicken well before putting the stuffing in. There may be more than one opening. Sew the smaller openings and leave only one large cavity before putting in the stuffing. Insert the stuffing through the large cavity.

Do not overstuff the chicken. If some of the stuffing won’t fit inside the chicken, reserve the extra and cook into a meatloaf (it makes a great embutido).

If desired, you can also butter the surface of the chicken after buttering the aluminum foil.

If the gravy is too thick, add more liquid. It’s best to use soup stock, but if not available, just use water.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Chicken Relleno , Christmas , DIY , Food , Lifestyle , Noche Buena

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Wildlife bureau chief recommends returning large croc to wild
  • Nueva Vizcaya town gets irrigation systems
  • Napoles ‘not fit’ to be state witness – Luy’s lawyer
  • DOH releases names of Etihad passengers yet to be tested for MERS-CoV
  • Sayyaf man linked to Sipadan kidnapping falls
  • Sports

  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Cha cha train to follow Obama visit?
  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate