Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sinaloa Style Chicken

Charcoal-grilled, oven-roasted, slow roasted on a spit-- any way you fix it Sinaloa style chicken is mmm-mmm good!

In case you aren't familiar with it, think of the El Pollo Loco chain of fast food restaurants. That's Sinaloa style chicken and it's good, but it doesn't have quite the depth of flavor you'll find in Mexico. This recipe will do the trick for you.

I got the basic recipe many years ago from a kind fellow who had a chicken stand in Mazatlan (you had to get there early before he sold out!), and I kind of adjusted the ingredients for serving only one chicken at a time. He flattened whole chickens (see Pollo Asado al Carbon to find out how that's done), grilled them over charcoal, then cut them up when they were done and ready to serve.

My other favorite place for this chicken was (and probably still is) El Pollo de Oro in Cabo San Lucas, OMG they serve great food there! They put the chickens on spits there and slow roast them till the skin is golden and the meat ready to fall off the bones; and as a bonus, they place racks of spareribs underneath the chickens so all that delicious fat drips down on the ribs and flavors them while they cook--- you've never had better ribs!


  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 pounds or so
  • Juice from one lime (or lemon)
  • 1 Cup orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
  • 1/2 small yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp each dried thyme, marjoram and oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves, broken
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree. Place the chicken in a bowl just wide enough to hold it and with some extra room at the top. Pour the puree over it, rubbing it in to make sure the chicken is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours (overnight is best!), turning the chicken several times so all of it gets an equal chance to absorb the marinade.

Ready to cook it? Let's go!

I usually oven roast it whole on a rack at 375 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's a nice dark gold and the juices run clear when stabbed through the thickest part of a thigh. Baste it occasionally, first with the marinade and then with the juices that accumulate in the pan. When it's done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes so all the juices are absorbed into the meat. You don't want any of that juicy goodness to run out when you cut it up!

If you are grilling it, the easiest thing is to cut it in half through the breast bone/back and grill it in halves. You can also buy the chicken parts you prefer (thighs and drumsticks, chicken breasts, whatever) and grill it that way.

Over charcoal: About 1-1/4 hours before serving, light your charcoal briquettes and let it burn until coals are only medium-hot. Lightly oil the grill and put about 8 inches above the coals. Lay the chicken halves (or parts) on the grill, skin side up, and grill for 35 to 45 minutes, turning every 10 minutes and basting with any leftover marinade. When a fork pricked deep into the thigh brings up clear juices, it is done.

On a Gas Grill: Grill over medium heat, as above.

Serve while still hot, with warm flour tortillas, rice and the salsa of your choice.

Wow, I'm making myself really hungry here. Gotta have me some!

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain