Mexican is one of the alternate cuisines that I lean on a lot. When I need a quick weeknight meal, I take some leftover meat, shred it, make some quick salsa, and ask my lovely wife to make some tortillas.
*One of my more entertaining cooking classes was taught by Tom Johnson at the Western Reserve School of Cooking. He said that everyone should concentrate on two ethnic cuisines. This allows you to learn the techniques, and get the specialized ingredients in detail. He’s a french chef, so he recommended French and Chinese. I tried to do this, but I’m all over the map. American home cooking, Mediterranean by way of California, American grilling/barbecue, French, Pan-Asian (Chinese, Korean, Thai), Mexican and Tex Mex. If it’s cooked on a grill, I’ve probably tried it. The only major cuisines I don’t cook often are German/Eastern European, Japanese (and I’m working on my yakitori) and Indian (and I’m working on my curry).
For this recipe, I figured I’d get a head start on the leftovers by making a mexican style rotisserie chicken. For ideas, I turned to my cookbooks from Rick Bayless.
I had one of the best steaks of my life at his Frontera Grill restaurant in chicago, and a lot of what I know about mexican cooking came from working my way through his “Salsas That Cook” book. It should really be titled “How to make salsas ahead of time so you can quickly get mexican food on the table.”
*Maybe there’s a reason I’m not in marketing; I need to work on my punchy book titles.
Anyhow, get his books if you’re interested in authentic Mexican cooking. Real Mexican cooking is a lot more interesting than Tex-Mex; the regional variations and variety of flavors can be eye opening. Tex-Mex really qualifies as an American variation on norteno Mexican cooking; we’ve taken some of the ideas and turned them into one of our own regional cuisines. For an interesting book on that subject, see The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh.
Recipe: Rotisserie Chicken with Red Chile Marinade (Pollo Adobado)
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; kettle is here and rotisserie attachment is here)
- aluminum foil drip pan (9″x11″, or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher’s twine for trussing the chicken
- 2 whole chickens, 3.5 to 4 lbs each
- 0.5 cup vegetable oil
- 0.25 cup ancho chile powder
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp oregano (preferably mexican oregano)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Directions: (See my Rotisserie Poultry basic technique for more details)
1. Marinate (Brinerate) the chicken: One to one and a half hours before cooking, combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve one quarter cup of the marinade, and rub the rest of the marinade all over chicken, including the inside of the cavity. Loosen the skin over the chicken breast with a finger, and rub more of the marinade under the skin, against the breast meat. Put the chicken in a baking dish, breast side down, and let rest, refrigerated, until ready to cook.
2. Prepare the grill: Prepare your rotisserie for cooking on indirect high heat (see details here). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill, and put the drip pan in the middle, between the piles.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter. It is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
3. Truss and spit the chicken: When the coals are almost ready, remove the chicken from the refrigerator, truss, and skewer the chicken onto the spit.
*See the basic technique for details on how to do this.
4. Cook the chicken: Put the spit on the grill, and turn on the rotisserie motor. Cook with the lid closed. It should take 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. A 4 lb bird should be done in about an hour. It’s better to go by temperature, though – you want the breast at the thickest part to read 160*F to 165*F; start checking about 15 minutes before you think the bird will be done.
5. Serve: Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade. Remove skewer from grill, remove chicken from skewer, let rest at least 15 minutes, carve and serve. I carve a chicken by cutting the legs free of the body, then cutting the drumsticks from the thighs. Then I cut the wings off. I cut the breast meat away from the carcass, the slice the breast meat 1/2″ thick, and serve them all on a platter.
*Brine and rub: Instead of the marinade, which is the traditional mexican way of preparing this recipe, use a brine and a rub. Brine the chicken using the instructions in my original rotisserie chicken recipe. Combine all the marinade ingredients to make the rub, except for the oil, vinegar, and salt. Rub on the chicken, including under the skin, before trussing in step 3.
*Spicy marinade: I toned down the heat on this one because of my kids. Add 1 tsp of chipotle puree to the marinade for a spicy kick.
*As I mentioned in my opening, leftovers make great tacos – shred the leftover chicken with your fingers, then serve with tortillas or taco shells, salsa, shredded mexican cheese, and whatever other toppings you would want with your tacos.
*This isn’t a pure Mexican marinade; I used the “Don’t Marinate, Brinerate” ideas from Cook’s Illustrated magazine when building the Adobabo marinade. (Link here, subscription required.)
Questions? Suggestions? Ideas? Leave them in the comments.
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