Mojo Criollo is my all-time favorite chicken marinade

Photo: Kevin Pang
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Years ago a friend from Houston told me that Goya’s mojo criollo was her “Magic Sauce” and that it’s a staple of her family cookouts. It was, in retrospect, one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

Goya is the Kraft of Latin-American food brands and its products are found at pretty much any American grocer. Mojo criollo is a marinade of orange and lemon juices, garlic, onions, and a brew of herbaceous spices. It’s versatile for pork chops and skirt steaks, but for me it’s absolutely delicious with grilled chicken. The sugars in the marinade all but guarantees caramelization from the grill, and the skin it produces verges on crunchy.

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Photo: Kevin Pang

Either the night before or on the morning you’re going to grill, I pour half a bottle of mojo criollo into a gallon zip-top bag and throw in pieces of skin-on chicken. I place this bag in a bowl and pop it into the refrigerator, making sure to rotate the pieces inside the bag every few hours. When ready to grill, I place this over indirect heat, skin-side up first, then partially cover with the lid (I use a Weber kettle grill). If you place this directly over the hot coals at the beginning, the dripping of chicken fat will likely flare up flames and quickly burn the skin, and this you don’t want. I only finish the chicken over direct heat, skin-side down, for the last few minutes.

With proper attention (it took me about 25 minutes to cook through my thighs), you’ll achieve that golden crisp sheen like that in the header image. And the interior meat could not be juicier. Not too bad for something that costs under $3.

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About the author

Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.