Citrus and oregano make this grilled chicken taste sophisticated. It is inspired by my mom’s traditional pollo en oregano, which is usually fried. (You can find that recipe in our first cookbook Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.)
1½ tablespoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns (about 12 peppercorns)
1 head garlic (1¼ ounces/35 g), cloves separated, peeled, and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons sea salt
Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup/120 ml)
3 pounds (1.3 kg) bone-in chicken thighs
In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast the oregano, cumin seeds, and peppercorns for about 3 minutes, until the spices are aromatic. Grind everything in a molcajete or spice grinder until finely ground.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the toasted ground spices, garlic, oil, salt, and lemon juice.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Using a gallon-size resealable bag, add the marinade and the chicken. Seal and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
Remove the chicken thighs in their marinade from the fridge to allow them to reach room temperature. Start a charcoal or gas grill. The gas should be set to high. If using a pellet grill, preheat your grill to 450°F (230°C) for at least 15 minutes. If using charcoal, the coals should be red but entirely covered with gray ash. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and put them on the grill directly over the high fire, skin side up. Close the lid and cook, turning once, about 15 minutes on each side. The chicken is cooked when its internal temperature reaches 175°F (79°C) on a meat thermometer. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
“Excerpt from the new book Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling by Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral. Copyright (c) 2023 by Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral. Photos copyright (c) 2023 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Abrams.”
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