A real Mexican marinade for chicken that’s simple to make but packs in BIG flavours! This chicken is a home-style version of Mexican street food. Great for grilling, cooking on the stove or even baking!
The marinade for this recipe is adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe. I’m a huge fan of Bobby Flay. I still stand by a comment I made previously that he should seriously consider wearing sunnies when he cooks outdoors because I swear, he is permanently squinting in his Barbecue Addiction TV series!
Bobby Flay’s food is totally up my alley. He’s into strong flavours, herbs and spices, cooking food from all over the world, and while he does do Western takes on ethnic recipes, he always stays on the right side of “the line”. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to staying on the right side of “the line”. There, I’ve said it. I’ve never openly admitted that before. I am absolutely not a food snob. I’m not a gourmet foodie, I’m not into foraging, I don’t refuse to eat anything other than artisan bread.
But I actually get a bit grumpy when I see, for example, a recipe named “Chinese” something-or-rather just because it has soy sauce in it, and no other Asian ingredient!
So one reason I like Bobby Flay’s recipes is because even if they are not a 100000% traditional recipe, they still taste authentic. Am I making sense???
And this Mexican grilled chicken is one such example. 🙂
I found this recipe in Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction cookbook. I’ve used a LOT of recipes from that cookbook, it’s one of my go-tos for…well, barbecue recipes! Actually, to tell you the truth, I use a lot of part of the recipes. Most of his recipes tend to comprise of a marinated or spice rubbed protein, plus a sauce or salsa on the side and quite often I end up using either the marinade or the side.
So the marinade I use for this chicken is adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mexican Red Chicken with Grilled Black Corn and Quinoa Relish. I skipped the Relish because this chicken is absolutely perfect for using for tacos, as I have done for this recipe.
The marinade for this chicken is based on a Mexican street food called Sinaloa Chicken. Deep dark mahogany red, mildly spicy and aromatic from cinnamon and All Spice. The real street food version is made using whole chickens and it’s cooked over charcoal.
So this is a homestyle version, made using a marinade adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe, using chicken thigh fillets so it’s perfect for cutting into slices and stuffing into tacos.
If you love Mexican food, I promise, absolutely PROMISE you will love this. The flavour is truly sensational! – Nagi x
- 1 - 1.5lb / 500 - 750g chicken thigh fillets (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- 1½ tbsp lime juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ tbsp chipotle or ancho chile powder (Note 3)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika powder (Note 4)
- ⅛ tsp All Spice
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional - for spiciness)
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- Tortillas or taco shells
- Pico de Gallo (tomato salsa)
- Sour cream
- Fresh coriander / cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Place Marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag. Add chicken, massage to coat then refrigerate to marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove chicken from Marinade, discard Marinade.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat (or even better, do this on the BBQ on medium high). Cook chicken for 4 minutes on each side, until dark golden brown.
- Remove chicken onto plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 3 minutes.
- Cut into strips and use for tacos. (See Note 5 for more serving options)
2. This is best made using thigh fillets because the fat in the chicken caramelises beautifully with the marinade. But it can be made with chicken breast if desired, but you won't get as much caramelisation (unless you use more oil for cooking). Slice in half horizontally to make thin steaks, marinate, then cook per recipe.
3. Ancho chilli powder is not as spicy as chipotle, so if you using ancho chilli, consider adding more cayenne pepper if you like spicy!
Chipotle and ancho chilli powder can be annoyingly difficult to find in Australia. 🙂 It is not sold in the major supermarkets (yet) but you can find it in fruit & veg stores, delis and gourmet/speciality stores. It does not cost much more than ordinary spices. It can also be purchased online from Firework Foods: Chipotle here and Ancho Powder here.
If you can't track either down, I think the best substitute is ½ tbsp each SMOKED paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper.
4. Smoked paprika adds a smokiness to the flavour which is akin to cooking over charcoal. If you don't have it, normal or sweet paprika is fine.
5. This chicken is so good, it can be served as is rather than using it for tacos. I suggest serving it with Mexican Green Rice (cilantro/coriander flavour), steamed or grilled corn (or go all out and make Mexican Street Corn), a colourful Cabbage Salad (this recipe is not strictly Mexican but the flavours match Mexican food really well), and/or Pico de Gallo.
Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings with 500g/1lb chicken thigh fillets. Left – chicken only. Right – chicken + 2 tortillas (excludes other taco toppings).