Pollo al Carbon or Grilled Chicken

Mexican Fiesta
from the grill

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.


  1. Oh what a nice marinade, love the citrus and herb combo!

  2. that is one heck of a good looking bird! I love mine like this... great flavoring you used here... Mexican is my second favorite food to eat!

  3. I'd love to get my hands on that cookbook, published or not! That's one fabulous marinade and good lookin' bird! Guess you've heard about the flooding, taking place in our great state? Check out my post for details.

  4. I think I'm quitting my job right now and living on your back stoop, praying for scraps.


  5. I think I will agree with miss Emily on this one...we will just hang out on your back porch waiting for your yummy scraps to arrive. YUM!!

  6. love the marinade, but I might cook the chicken in the oven for a bit before grilling. I don't do well with anything "charred"...Me who will eat anything! Oh, well, ya found me out ;)Just made your White Chili (again) and posted it on my blog...gave you a salute and link to this blog. PS- how did you create this see thru to background? Lovely! N cucinananette.blogspot.com

  7. I was thinking today about grilling whole chickens split in half for Memorial. Great minds think alike. That's some serious char!

  8. I love flattening the bird as well. Love the flavour combo and how charred the bird look. NOM

  9. This is a great looking piece of grilled chicken Drick! I'm glad you lifted and shared the recipe with us and I hope you do finish that cookbook one day;)
    Thanks you very much for your very thoughtful comment on my blog, wow, just very nice and put a smile on my face;-)

  10. This is one good looking bird! My youngest generally only eats chicken and not much other meats, so as a result we grill an entire spectrum of goodies at one time :) Always love your marinades!

  11. I've never flattened a bird. I love how it looks and cooks more evenly I'm told. Great chicken dish - another Drick recipe goes into my recipes to make file!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts