Baja Roast Chicken
Roast chicken might not strike one as a typically Baja (or Mexican) dish. But there is hardly a town in Baja large enough to have a gas station that does not have one or more roast or rotisserie chicken chains on the main drag. In our little town it’s El Pollo Asil. In others it is El Rey del Pollo or any of a number of similar iterations. What they sell, what they all have in common, is the same homey, comforting hug that roast chicken has always represented, but with the added flair of the region’s flavors, like citrus, chiles, and both sweet and savory spices. The classic accompaniments—corn tortillas, refried beans, and Mexican rice—complete the picture and the meal. The recipe will yield more spice blend than is needed for this recipe. It is excellent with just about any chicken or pork dish.
Reprinted with permission from Cali-Baja Cuisine: From Tijuana’s Taco Stands to San Diego’s Cali-Baja Burritos (Rizzoli, September 2023)
- Servings Serves 2 - 4
For the chicken:
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground annatto seeds (achiote) or turmeric
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 large orange
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
For serving: (recipes can be found in the Cali-Baja Cuisine cookbook)
- Corn Tortillas
- Warmed Mexican Rice
- Refried Beans
- Shredded green cabbage
- Salsas of your choice
In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, 1 tablespoon of the cumin, 1 tablespoon of the annatto, the garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of the salt, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, and 1 teaspoon of the pepper to combine. Transfer 2 tablespoons of this spice blend to a separate medium bowl and reserve the rest for another use.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon annatto, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oregano, the ancho chile powder, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, and garlic to the bowl with the spice blend and whisk to thoroughly combine.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably 3 to 5 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until the skin browns. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and roast for 30 to 45 minutes more, checking occasionally and basting the chicken with its juices, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 175°F. Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before carving.
Serve the chicken with corn tortillas, Mexican rice, and refried beans along with shredded cabbage and your choice of salsas.