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Baja Roast Chicken

Serves 2 to 4.

Roast chicken might not strike one as a typically Baja (or Mexican) dish. But there is hardly a town in Baja large enough to have a gas station that does not have one or more roast or rotisserie chicken chains on the main drag. What they have in common is the same homey, comforting hug that roast chicken has always represented, but with the added flair of the region's flavors, like citrus, chiles, and both sweet and savory spices. The classic accompaniments — corn tortillas, refried beans, and rice — complete the picture and the meal. You'll have more spice blend than needed; it is excellent with just about any chicken or pork dish. The recipe needs to be prepared in advance. From "Cali-Baja Cuisine," by Michael A. Gardiner (Rizzoli, 2023).

• 1 tbsp. ground coriander

• 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground turmeric, divided

• 1 tbsp. garlic powder

• 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, divided

• 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

• 1 tbsp. ancho chile powder

• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• Juice of 1 large orange

• Juice of 1 lime

• 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

• 6 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken

For serving:

• Corn tortillas, warmed

• Mexican-flavored rice

• Refried beans

• Shredded green cabbage

• Salsas of your choice


In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon turmeric, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons oregano, and 1 teaspoon of pepper to combine. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the spice blend to a separate medium bowl and reserve the rest for another use.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oregano, ancho chile powder, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar and garlic to the bowl with the spice blend and whisk to thoroughly combine.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken in a large resealable bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably 3 to 5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until the skin browns. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, checking occasionally and basting the chicken with its juices, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees. Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the chicken with corn tortillas, rice and refried beans along with shredded cabbage and salsas.