Rick Bayless' Grilled Roadside Whole Chicken
For the marinade
1-1/2 tbl ground ancho chile powder
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
A big pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
3 tbl vinegar (apple cider vinegar gives a Mexican flavor)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp salt, plus a little more for the onions
1 large (3 lb) chicken (sometimes called a large frying chicken, or a small roasting chicken)
2 large bunches green onions, preferably the type with large (1 inch) white bulbs, (these "knob" onions are available at Mexican markets and many farmers' markets), roots and wilted outer leaves removed
A little vegetable oil or olive oil for brushing the onions
About 1 cup roasted Tomatillo Salsa, for serving
In a small bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.
Heat one side of a gas grill to medium. If you have a grill with three burners, heat the outer two to medium, leaving the center one off. Or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until the charcoal is covered with white ash and about medium-hot; bank half the coals to one side of the grill, half to the other.
While the grill is heating, remove the giblets (if there are any) from the cavity of the chicken. Flip the chicken onto its breast. Using poultry shears, cut down both sides of the backbone from tail to neck; discard backbone. Or, if you don't have shears, lay the bird on its back, insert a long heavy knife into the body cavity and press down hard with a rocking motion to cut down through both sides of the backbone. Open the bird out onto your work surface, breast side up. Make sure that the legs are turned inward. Using your fist or a mallet, wallop the bird on the breast, hard enough to dislodge the center bones and flatten out the breast. Twist the last joint of the wings up over the breast and then down behind the "shoulders," tucking them in firmly to keep them in place during grilling.
Smear both sides of the chicken with the marinade. Lay in the center of the grill (it wil not be over direct heat). Cook, without turning, basting from time to time with any remaining marinade, until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced deeply with a fork (an instant-read thermometer should register about 160 degrees when inserted at the thickest part of the thigh), about 45 minutes. If you're cooking over charcoal, you'll wnat to add more charcoal to the fire after an hour or so - the internal temperature of the grill should stay at about 325 degrees.
About 10 minutes before the chicken is ready, brush or spray the green onions with oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill directly over the fire, turning frequently, until tender and browned.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board. It will lose less juice if you cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Cut the chiekn into quarters ( or smaller pieces). Transfer a portion to each of four dinner plates. Top with the grilled onions, and you're ready to serve. Pass the salsa separately.
A couple of riffs
Pairs Well With
I love to grill zucchini and eggplant (thickly sliced, brushed with oil and sprinkled with salt), alongside or in place of the onions; a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro make them taste very Mexican.