Pollo Pibil/Oven-Barbecued Chicken Yucatan Style

Submitted by

Bob Papen (UQAM)

Story behind this recipe

I first tasted pollo pibil in the Yucatan some years ago. It's a Mayan recipe. Traditionally, the Mayans use a pit the bottom of which is lined with hot stones and over which they place the chicken pieces, wrapped in banana leaves. This is the "urban" version. It's easy to make and never fails to provoke oohs and aahs from guests. In fact, it's so good, they'll ask you for seconds. Guaranteed!


1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon, grapefruit or lime juice
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, quartered
1 tbsp achiote (annatto) seeds or achiote powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 large onion
Approx. 4 lbs of chicken pieces (cutlets, legs, breasts), cut in serving pieces
1 tomato, sliced (optional)

Serving size


Measuring units


Cooking Instructions

1. Place all the ingredients (except the chicken, onion and tomato) in workbowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process to a smooth purée.
2. Coat each piece of chicken evenly with the purée sprinkle with chopped onion (and optionally one slice of tomato) and wrap each piece separately and tightly in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped bundles of chicken on a dish; allow to marinate for at least 24 hours in the fridge. Turn several times during the marinating period. Do not open bundles!
3. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
4. Set the foil-wrapped chicken pieces on a rack in a covered roasting pan. Pour water into the pan to a depth of 1 or 2 inches; cover tightly and bake for 2 to 21/2 hours.
5. Serve each of your guests a wrapped chicken piece, and let them slit the packages open so they can enjoy the aroma. Serve with hot tortillas and black beans.