Looking for something a little different for your 4th of July barbecue? Here's a delicious south-of-the-border variation on grilled chicken.
I used to spend a lot of time in Oaxaca, Mexico. Just outside of the city of Oaxaca was a little place that specialized in rotisserie-cooked chickens. They were smeared with a unique chile paste with hints of lime, and these chickens were some of the most delicious I've ever had. But, I don't get to Oaxaca much anymore, so I try to recreate those fabulous flavors at home. This recipe is pretty close to the Oaxacan chickens I remember, although I don't have a rotisserie so I just grill mine.
You'll need to start a day in advance so you can let the spices penetrate the chicken overnight. Also, you'll want to remove the backbone and butterfly the chicken (also called spatchcock) or have a butcher to it for you. For a good video about how to butterfly the bird, click here.
1 - 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lb. chicken, backbone removed and butterflied
3 Tbs. chile powder -- I like to use ancho, poblano, or New Mexico chile powder or a combination of them
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp. grated lime zest
3 Tbs. lime juice
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken.
Whisk to create a wet paste. If the paste is too dry, add a little more lime juice and/or olive oil.
Smear the spice paste all over the chicken's exterior and also tucked under the skin. It's messy!
Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours) to allow the spices to penetrate and season the chicken.
About a half-hour before cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge.
Heat a gas grill to medium heat (about 350 degrees F.), using only one side of the grill. If using a charcoal grill, make a fire on one side of the grill only.
Place the chicken on the grill, breast side down, directly over the heat. You might want to keep a squirt bottle filled with water handy for flare-ups.
Grill the chicken for about 5-6 minutes, until it begins to color and get some nice char marks.
Flip the bird over and cook on the other side for another 5-6 minutes over direct heat.
Next, move the chicken to the unheated side of the grill, close the lid and cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F. This should take another 30 to 45 minutes or so, depending on the temperature of your grill and the size of the chicken.
When the chicken is finished cooking, transfer it to a platter or cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
Happy Fourth of July!