El Pollo al Carbon

El Pollo al Carbon
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  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 2 Chickens (4 Servings)

This is a great, traditional Mexican recipe for grilled chicken. It is best to use smaller birds, so if you need a lot, just buy more, not bigger. This will help to keep down the cooking time. Serve with seasoned rice, warmed tortillas, and refried beans.


  • 2 small chickens (about 3 pounds/1.4 kg. each), cut in half down the middle
  • 1/2 cup/120 mL orange juice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 mL hot chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 mL cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 mL ground cloves
  • salsa and tortillas
  • 1 to 2 limes, halved

Steps to Make It

  1. Sauté onion and tomatillos in oil until soft. About 5 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add citrus juices and spices. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

  2. Place chicken halves in a large container or large resealable bags. Cover with sauce and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours. You can marinate a little longer if necessary, but not longer than 8 hours.

  3. Preheat grill. Remove chicken halves from marinade and place on medium hot grill. Grill for about 45 minutes turning occasionally and basting with reserved sauce every 10 minutes, for the first 30 minutes of cook time. Do not baste in the last 15 minutes of grilling. Chicken is done when juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 175 F in breast and 185 F in thigh meat. This higher temperature will help with shredding.

  4. Once cooked, remove chicken halves from the grill.  Place onto a large cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil.  Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze fresh lime juice over cook halves. Traditionally, the chicken is shredded and served in warmed tortillas accompanied by Spanish rice and refried beans.