Cuban Mojo Roasted Chicken

Whole roasted chicken is such a versatile food item in our household. Aside from it being economical, you can marinade it in so many different ways. Basically, any herbs and spices you have in the pantry can used. You can eat your favorite piece tonight and tomorrow, and shred the leftovers for a macaroni salad, quesadilla, flatbread or just about anything else you can think of.

This next recipe is Cuban mojo roasted whole chicken. Cuban mojo is a citrus sauce made from garlic, oregano, cumin, olive oil, salt, pepper, and bitter orange. The longer you marinade with it, the better. This marinade can be used on any meat, poultry or fish. Let’s just say, it is a stronger, more fragrant version of a lemon pepper marinade. It is also used as a dipping or drizzling sauce in many Cuban side dishes such as yucca (cassava). For this, you simply add sliced onions to the marinade and it’s ready to use. The longer the onions sit in the marinade, the more they pickle. Fantastic!

You can probably find a pre-made store bought version of mojo in the ethnic food aisle or section of your local grocery store. Although I like to make it from scratch if possible. The bitter orange is the ingredient that makes this sauce unique to anything you’ve ever tried. We don’t have bitter oranges where we live now, so I ask my mom to send them to me from South Florida when they are available. If you can’t find them, just use equal parts orange juice (no pulp) to lime juice (or lemon juice if that’s what you have) and it will work as well.

I’d like to add that I spatchcocked the chicken. Spatchcock means that you cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. I use kitchen shears to do (if you’ve got the knife skills you can absolutely use your knife). Starting from the tail end working my way up, then I flip the chicken breast side up and firmly press down on the breast bone to flatten. This technique allows you to roast your chicken evenly and give it perfectly crispy skin. It will be juicy all the way through. Remember not to throw the backbone or any other pieces out, use them for making a broth or stock!

The trick to this recipe is to let the marinade penetrate the whole chicken for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge. I use a glass bowl or gallon ziplock bag (depending on the weight and size of the chicken) to keep it coated evenly with the marinade. Be sure to rub some marinade under the skin of the breast section for extra flavor.

Ps- Don’t forget to tuck the little wings behind the breast so they don’t burn.

Here is the recipe:

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Marinade Time : 45 minutes to 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour 

Servings: Varied

Ingredients:

  • One 4 or 5 Lb chicken, thawed 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp black ground pepper
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of Bitter orange juice (or store bought mojo) (or equal parts orange juice to lime juice) Remember no pulp.
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, chopped (dried oregano works too)
  • 1 Tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp of onion powder
  • ½ Tbsp cumin

To spatchcock the chicken:

  1. Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down.
  2. With kitchen shears, cut along either side of the backbone starting from the tail end working your way up.
  3. Now flip the chicken, breast side up, and with the palm of your hand firmly press on the breast bone to crack. Your chicken is ready to marinade and then roast.

For the marinade:

  1. Combine the garlic, salt, black ground pepper, olive oil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, bitter orange (if available) or lime juice and equal parts orange juice (or store bought mojo).
  2. Place the chicken in a large glass bowl or pan and add marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F
  2. Place the chicken in a roasting pan breast side up and tuck the wing under to avoid burning.
  3. Roast the chicken for 1 hour or as directed on the package per Lb.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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