I’ve been wanting to roast a chicken on the grill for the longest time but was skeptical of the outcome. I had visions of chicken burned to a crisp or maybe a perfectly golden browned outer skin but under cooked on the inside. One of the best things I remember from our days in Albuquerque was going to this little chain called “El Pollo Asado” for the tastiest roasted chicken anywhere. Joe and I used to go after work and order a plate with dark meat (thigh and leg pieces) or white meat (breast and wing pieces) served with tortillas, salsa, guacamole, cheese and sour cream on the side. It was so messy, we picked apart the chicken right at our table. Actually it was so tender it often fell off the bone. We filled the tortillas with juicy chicken and all the flavorful sides. They had little towelettes at the table to clean up with just like you find at the BBQ joints here in KC. It’s one of those things I’ve often wondered if I could make myself. I wish I would have tried this years ago, the chicken was tender and juicy just like I remembered with the flavors of citrusy orange and lime throughout. I made all the fixings to fill our tortillas and it was so so good. Cooking a whole chicken made for some tasty leftovers. I had enough to add to a pot of green chile and corn chowder as well as a pot of creamy chicken and rice soup. Yummy week!
I started by making a marinade. It included the juice of 1 large orange, juice of 2 limes, some coarse sea salt, jalapeno, green onion, garlic and cilantro. I included some orange juice that I will use later on.
Since I’m cooking this vertically I need to set the pan down beside the hot coals in order to close the lid. Once you have the bird secure in place, close the lid and keep an eye on the temperature. I held on to the leftover orange and lime rinds and arranged them around the pan. I don’t know if they added anything to the flavor, but they didn’t hurt anything either.
My temp ranged from a high of 475 down to 350 degrees. It got hot quickly and shot to 475 degrees then started to cool down over time. I knew that I needed approximately 15 minutes per pound and estimated 1 hour 15 minutes to cook so at the halfway mark I checked the temp and noticed it was at 350 degrees. I wanted to try and keep it around 400 degrees give or take so when I opened up the lid, I added a few more coals and rotated the chicken because it was cooking more to one side than the other. I closed the lid and didn’t open it up again for another 45 minutes.
After the time was up I opened up the lid to a much more browned bird that was roasted more evenly. Time to check the internal temperature to see if it is indeed done on the inside. I looked online and found that poultry needs an internal temperature of 170 degrees to be safe.
I served my El Pollo Asado with warm flour tortillas, Monterey Jack cheese, Chunky Guacamole with Sweet Corn and Chile de Arbol Salsa. Also picture in your mind the sour cream that I forgot to get in the photo.
El Pollo Asado
1 whole Chicken, remove giblet pack, rinse and pack dry
Juice of 2 Limes
Juice of 1 large Orange, or 2 medium Oranges
1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
4 – 5 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
1 large Jalapeno, chopped fine
3 Green Onions, chopped fine
3 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup of additional Orange Juice
Serve with Flour Tortillas, Chile de Arbol Salsa, Chunky Guacamole with Sweet Corn, Sour Cream, and grated Monterey Jack Cheese.
Make marinade by combining the chopped jalapeno, green onions, cilantro and grated garlic in a medium bowl. Add the orange and lime juice and sea salt. Stir to mix well.
Place the chicken in a large zip lock bag and pour the marinade contents in to coat all of the chicken. Secure the bag and place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for 3 – 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare coals on a grill. Take chicken out of the refrigerator, drain the marinade and allow to rest while the coals get hot. When using a vertical roaster, pour 1/2 to 1 cup of orange juice in the center cone for added flavors. Set the chicken on top of the center cone legs side down. If you don’t have a vertical roaster, a bundt pan will work just as well. Take a basting brush and brush the chicken all over with olive oil.
When the coals are hot and turned white, place the charcoal to one side of the grill. Set the chicken roaster next to the hot coals away from direct heat and cover the grill. Cook approximately 15 minutes per pound. My bird was just over 5 lbs and roasted for 1 hour 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain the internal grill temperature as close to 400 degrees as possible. If the temperature drops, add a few more coals on top of the hot charcoal. Rotate the chicken halfway through the grilling time. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170°F.