RECIPE – Mexican “Roadside Chicken” w/ Quick Green Salsa

by Henry Gould – Dec 2nd, 2020

If you’ve traveled through Mexico, you’ve likely seen the roadside stands of chickens cooking, either whole on a rotisserie or in pieces on a charcoal grill. They always look amazing, but sometimes it can be intimidating to order food you’re not familiar with, especially if you don’t speak the language.

The good news is Mexican “Roadside Chicken” is a secret many cooks have been happy to share, and is incredibly easy to make at home. Some recipes call for a complex marinade of lots of ingredients. Those are fine, but this is easier. It also leaves you time to make the quick green salsa in a mortar and pestle, or a blender.

Feel free to cook this on a barbecue, but be careful of flareups as the fat from the skin renders. Ideally you want a low and slow cooking time of about 40 minutes with lots of turning to ensure it cooks through completely without burning.

Serve the chicken on its own, over a salad, or with warm corn tortillas.

Mexican Roadside Chicken w/ Quick Green Salsa
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • 1 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 large pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • For the salsa
    • 1 bunch green onions
    • 5 serrano peppers
    • Sea salt
    • 1 pinch oregano
    • 2 limes
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 2 dried chile de arbol (optional)

Put the chicken in a large bowl and season generously all over with sea salt, making sure to sprinkle each piece. Drizzle with olive oil then add the cinnamon, cumin seeds and smoked paprika and toss to coat and combine. Allow to marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 425F with a large roasting pan in the oven, which you will cook the chicken on. You want it to be hot when you put the chicken on it.

Once the oven is heated, take the pan out, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and spread around so the whole surface is coated. Add the chicken thighs skin side DOWN, leaving some room between each piece. Put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take the pan out and drain away some of the fat that has rendered or mop up with a paper towel. Turn the chicken over skin side up and put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the skin is crispy (but not black or burnt).

To make the salsa in a blender, chop the green onions and serrano peppers into pieces and add to the blender. Sprinkle with salt, oregano, the juice of the limes and the garlic cloves. Add a little water and blend until combined. Add more lime juice, salt, or water to get a nice salsa consistency. If you have chile’ de arbol on hand (who doesn’t???) add two of them to the finished salsa to soak and infuse.

To make the salsa in a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic cloves with salt and oregano until a paste. Then add the chopped serrano peppers (1/2 at a time) and pound until you make a paste. Then add the chopped green onions and pound again until consistent. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and some water if needed. Adjust the seasoning… it should be very spicy, salty and limey.

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