Sinaloa Style Chicken II – On a Charcoal Grill

Last year, I shared a story about Sinaloa Style Chicken, which is a well known dish in Mexico, and also in some parts of the United States, from chains such as Pollo Loco™ and Pollo Feliz™ (click here for  the full story). The success of these restaurants resides in their secret marinades, and the spatchcocking of the chickens, a grandiloquent term which means to cut and open a whole chicken into a piece with more or less a uniform thickness, reducing cooking times, and rendering well done legs and thighs without drying out the breasts. That time the weather was still cold, so I broiled the chicken in the oven.  A few weeks ago, though, we were enjoying beautiful weather, and I had a bunch of green multiplier onions begging to be grilled, so those were the perfect conditions to revisit that spatchcocked chicken recipe, but this time, cooking it outdoors. I started my recipe as before, but then it was my husband’s turn to finish the dish, and he grilled the chicken (and the onions) to crispy perfection.    

Grilled Sinaloa Style Chicken (Charcoal Grill) –

Pollo asado estilo Sinaloa (a las brasas)


1 whole chicken

1 orange, juice only
1 lime, juice only
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cayenne or other ground dry pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Red Sauce:
4 red tomatoes
3-4 red hot peppers
Onion, shallots and/or garlic, to taste
Salt, to taste

Grilled Onions:
1 bunch green onions (preferably knob onions)
1 tbsp oil
Sat to taste

Marinated Cabbage:
2 cups cabbage; washed and shredded
1 cup carrots; washed, peeled and shredded
¼ cup white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:
Lime wedges
Warm corn tortillas
Tortilla chips

Mix all the marinade ingredients; set aside. Prepare the chicken by cleaning and patting dry with a paper towel. Place on working surface, back facing up.  To spatchcock, using sharp kitchen shears, cut along either side of the back bone; remove and use for broth or other recipe. Open back sides, so the flesh is exposed (photo below, left); flip skin side up, firmly press down in the middle, to flatten breast halves, and arrange wings and legs widespread (photo below, right):

This presentation is what is called to spatchcock or butterfly a chicken.  Place the spatchcocked chicken in a deep container, pour marinade on top, then turn chicken a couple of times, to coat both sides with the marinade. Let rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight. Prepare marinated cabbage by mixing all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl; allow to rest in the fridge for at least one hour before serving, or overnight.

Prepare grill for indirect heat; in a traditional charcoal kettle, place Aluminium foil trays along the centre to catch juices from the meat, and fire up charcoal on either side. The spatchcocked chicken may be sliced into halves along the middle of the breast line to fit the grill as necessary. Place chicken on the grill, skin side down, above the trays (photo below, left). Cover with lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, then uncover and flip to bring the skin side facing up, using tongs. Brush green onions with oil and place along the sides of the grill, on direct heat above the coals*. Cover again and allow to cook for another 20-25 more minutes, until the meat registers an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the onions are charred (photo below, right):

While the chicken is cooking, prepare sauce.  Wash and dry tomatoes and peppers. Remove stems and seeds from peppers; remove stem end from tomatoes and slice into quarters; peel onion/garlic/shallots. Process in the blender with salt to taste until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and reserve:

Once the chicken is ready, transfer to a serving plate and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Bring marinated cabbage out of the fridge (photo below, left); arrange grilled onions on a plate, sprinkling with salt, with lime wedges on the side (photo below, right):

Serve chicken with warm corn tortillas, tortilla chips, and all of the above side dishes (whoops, forgot the onions in the photo below!):

To plate, cut up chicken into portions and each person may assemble their own plate:

The raw ingredients in the red salsa provide a very refreshing and bold flavour.  I prepared it for the umpteenth time for this menu, since it is one of my family’s favourites; it goes well as an appetizer on tortilla chips, as shown above, and there is nothing like a delicious, charred yet tender, morsel of grilled chicken on a warm corn tortilla, topped with this fresh red salsa, especially enjoyed with a glass of cold Mexican beer, such as Tecate™:

By free association of ideas, the can of Tecate™ beer and the Sinaloa style chicken reminded me of a trip our family took in 2005 to Tecate, an actual town in the Mexican state of Baja California, where we had a meal at a restaurant of the Pollo Feliz™ franchise.  In my next post, I will share a little bit more about the circumstances of our trip and about Tecate.

* NOTE:  My husband did not like placing the onions directly over the coals, claiming that dripping oil and juices would become a juggernaut that would prematurely kill the heat and ruin the cooking process.  It worked out fine in the end, but if it is a concern, making room next to the chicken above the foil trays, and adding the onions at an earlier time might solve the issue. 

I am linking to Farm Fresh Tuesdays Blog Hop #64 with Lisa @ The Self-Sufficient HomeAcre and Melissa @ Little Frugal Homestead. Special thanks to Melissa for featuring my Best of the Season Berry Pie at her party.

I am joining Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop #389 with co-hosts Beverly @ Eclectic Red Barn, Penny @ Penny’s Passion, Sinea @ Ducks in a Row, Tammy @ My Life Abundant, Jennifer @ Engineer Mommy, Cindy @ Simple Steps for Living Life, Ahna @ Hammers ‘n Hugs, Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap, Brittany @ The Snyder Family, Emily @ Le Cultivateur, and Angela @ The Short Order Cook.

I am also joining Classy Flamingos Blog Party #114 with Linda @ On Poinsettia Drive.

I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #496 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.  Special thanks to Miz Helen for featuring my Two Creamy Green Sauces at this party.

I am sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday # 340 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, co-hosting this week with Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.  Special thanks to Angie for featuring my Creamy Green Sauces at this party.

I am also sharing this recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up # 265 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

18 thoughts on “Sinaloa Style Chicken II – On a Charcoal Grill

  1. My mouth is watering and now I want chicken. For breakfast yet! I’m always on the look-out for new recipes and hope you won’t mind my borrowing these delectables for my next Mexican food foray! Yum! (and way to go working in ‘grandiloquent’ so deftly! 🙂


    1. I am always thrilled when someone reads my posts and tries out my recipes; I hope you like it, Melanie, and thank you for the interesting word prompt!


    1. Any fresh red hot peppers, such as red serranos or jalapeños, Scotch bonnet, and even Thai long red peppers will be great. If fresh are not available, dry chile de árbol is good.


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