One of the only decent fast food restaurants I've ever been to is the wonderful El Pollo Loco, in southern California. They serve chicken, marinated in fruit juice and spices, that's grilled to perfection. Their recipe is, of course, proprietary. A local newspaper came up with a facsimile, and I played with it and, I think, improved on it.
Combine oil, butter, onion, garlic, achiote, cumin, lemon and orange juices in a large shallow pan. Add chicken halves, turning to coat well. Cover and marinate several hours, or overnight.
- 1/4 cup corn oil
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon ground achiote (substitute 2-3 drops yellow food coloring)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (grind the seeds fresh, if possible)
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 chicken, 2-1/2 to 3 pounds, halved
Remove chicken from marinade, then cook over medium coals on barbecue grill, or in a broiler 4 inches under source of heat, until browned on both sides and meat is done, turning and basting frequently, about 25 minutes.
Cut chicken halves into pieces. Serve with beans and rice, corn or flour tortillas, and fresh salsa.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)