Grilled Chicken with Beets and Salsa

The attractively exotic blend of spices that Yucatecan cooks combine with tangy vinegar and roasted garlic is a most satisfying creation. I like to use bone-in, skin-on chicken in this dish for wonderful flavor and moist texture. —Rick Bayless

  • Serves
    4 people
  • prep
    30 min
    25 min
  • Skill


  • 12 garlic cloves, about 1 large head
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • Salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves or 8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 medium-size or 4 small golden, yellow or candy stripe beets, peeled, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Frontera Habanero Salsa, for serving


Put garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, cloves and ½ teaspoon salt into a blender. Process until smooth.

Scrape half of the spice mixture into a small saucepan. Add the broth and ¼ teaspoon of salt, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Set aside.

Put chicken into bowl. Scrape the remaining spice mixture over the chicken and spread it with a spoon to coat chicken evenly. Let stand while you prepare the beets and the grill.

Put sliced beets into a microwave-safe bowl, toss with a sprinkling of salt and 2 tablespoons water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Poke a couple of holes in top and microwave on high, stirring once or twice, until tender, about 4 minutes. Pour off all the water and season again with salt.

Heat one side of a gas grill to medium, the other side to medium-low. Or light a charcoal fire and let it burn until the charcoal is covered with white ash (and about medium hot); bank the coals to one side.

Put the seasoned chicken pieces on the grill over the medium-hot fire, skin-side down. When richly browned, usually 5 or 6 minutes, use a pair of tongs to flip them over onto the cooler side of the grill. Cook until completely tender at the bone (the juices will run clear when a fork pierces the thickest part)—expect about 10 minutes longer, maybe more if the breasts are large. Remove from grill to a serving platter.

Bring the broth mixture to a boil; taste and season with salt. Arrange beets around chicken. Douse everything with the hot broth mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro. Pass the salsa.