Grilled Chicken with Escabeche Sauce

Pollo Asado en Escabeche
This recipe is from Season 5, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 6


  • For The Seasoning Paste
  • 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1/4teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2teaspoondried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs
  • For The Escabeche
  • 4 hot banana peppers (chiles xcatiques)
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 1large white onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2cups chicken broth
  • 1/4cup cider vinegar
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Chopped Cilantro for serving


Roast the unpeeled garlic on a griddle or heavy skillet set over medium heat for about 15 minutes, turning frequently, until blackened outside in spots and soft inside. Remove, cool, then slip off the skin.

Place the black pepper, allspice, cloves, cumin and oregano into a molcajete (or washable electric spice mill) and pulverize thoroughly. Add the peeled garlic cloves, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pound (or process) into a paste.

Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and scoop in 1/2 of the spice paste. Mix everything together until the chicken is well coated.

Heat a grill pan over medium (or light a charcoal fire and let burn until the coals are covered with gray ash and the grates are medium hot). Place the chicken skin-side down on the grill pan (or charcoal grill). When crispy-brown underneath (about 10 minutes), turn the chicken and continue grilling until the chicken is done (about 15 minutes more). Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a low oven.

Roast the banana pepper over an open flame until blistered and blackened all over. Cool. Peel, seed and slice the peppers 1/4-inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large (10-inch) skillet over medium. Add the onions and chiles and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the remaining spice paste, the chicken broth, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and simmer gently over medium-low heat until about half of the liquid is reduced, about 15 minutes.

Spoon the onions and chiles over the bottom of a large platter. Pile the grilled chicken on top. Pour the escabeche juices over the chicken and garnish with pickled red onions and chopped cilantro.



  1. Could you tell me what they use in the markets for meat seasoning everywhere. It’s a form of red meat tenderizer and possibly paprika? I have asked 20 people at least and can’t get a straight answer. When you are in the states and find a good Latin grocer with butcher section the meat (chicken,beef,pork) are all covered in it. Plz if u can! Love the books and the shows. Great talent and care are obvious when I see you cook. I appreciate the fact you not only research it, but you live it. Definitely and ALL AMERICAN admirer!! Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Mike –
      Well there is more than one answer to that question based on where in Mexico you are. We just got back from a trip to the Yucatan where they are famous for Recado Rojo – a paste/marinade that gets is color from achiote seeds – widely available in Mexican markets. Here is a recipe for a slightly different version – an adobo rojo. Hope that these are helpful!

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