This is a recipe I ‘lifted’ from my Mexican / Western cookbook that I will never finish. I just don’t know when I will ever have the time.
This is a way of cooking that I have enjoyed many times and the elements I will often borrow in making other types of grilled recipes. The marinade has all the right qualities in making a juicy, moist bird – acid from the fruit and vinegar, salt to plump liquid into the fibers and a well balanced blend of Mexican flavors. The marinated and grilled, or rather charred chicken is caused by the marinating sauce itself. This is one time that it is okay to blackened the outside of the bird, but be careful not to char or overcook the internal meat. It should still remain moist and flavorful having soaked in the pungent spiced, citrus sauce. It is said this way of cooking derives from the meat being cook directly on hot coals. I prefer to cook on a grate.
Pollo al Carbon
Grilled Blackened Chicken
2 whole chickens, about 3 pounds each
6 large garlic (ajo) cloves, minced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 2 large oranges (naranja)
1 tablespoon lime juice (limon)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon dried hierbas de olor (a mixture of thyme, oregano and marjoram)
1 teasppon ground cumin (comino)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons salt
Wash the chicken and cut down backbone and open flat. I like to press downwards breaking each of the breasts to achieve a perfectly flat bird. Remove any visible fat but leave the skin intact.
Mix the marinade with remaining ingredients and place in a non-reactive container or a sealable bag. Add chicken and toss mixture to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but not more than 4. Turn the chicken over about half way of the marinating time.
Remove chicken from the marinade and place directly over the heat source on a medium fire.
Grill either over charcoal or on a gas grill being careful not to burn the skin excessively. Use the marinade to mop on the chicken during the first 3 turns. Like true al carbon cooking, it will blacken from the sauce but you do not want to burn the meat. Turn the chicken at least 4 times moving it around on the grill from hot to cooler spots if necessary and away from flareups. Remove when juices run clear.
Slice or shred the meat from the bone and serve on platters with steamed tortillas, a variety of salsas, cheese and My Frijoles Charros.
Note: Some folks like to add cinnamon (canela) and cloves (clavos), about 1/4 teaspoon each I think would be fine, but I prefer to save these spices for turkey.