This marinade is the closest thing to a « Mexican BBQ sauce ».
We recreated the recipe based on our memories of an unforgettable meal we had on the side of the road, after a long drive in the Sierra Juarez, in Mexico, where there was hardly even a place to park. We had finally arrived in San Juan Bautista de Tuxtepec, several hours after lunchtime and a señorita was roasting chickens on a spit in a charcoal fire. The menu was simple (but incredibly flavourful!): one marinated, whole, roasted chicken, 1 kg hot tortillas, limes and gravy in a plastic bag!
Cut the lime in two and rub the chicken inside and out. Leave the lime halves in the chicken cavity. Let rest while preparing the marinade.
Grill the large chipotle chilies in a dry pan. Open, then remove some or all the seeds, to taste (if you like a marinade that is picante, do not remove any seeds).
Break the chilies into 1-inch pieces. Rinse under running water, place in a bowl and barely cover with boiling water. Let rest 10 minutes.
Grind the spices to a coarse powder, using a mortar and pestle or grinder.
Cut onions into large cubes and place them in a blender or food processor with soaked chilies and their water, ground spices, oil, sugar, salt, garlic and vinegar. Grind to a purée.
Place the chicken in a bowl, then rub the inside and outside vigorously with the marinade. Let rest for a few hours or overnight in a cool place.
Heat the oven to 375 °F or fire up the grill on one side only. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and set aside the remaining marinade.
Cook the chicken in the oven, basting occasionally with its cooking juices for 1h30, or on the un-lit side of the grill, covered for 1h30.
Remove chicken from the roasting pan and let rest on a dish while preparing the sauce.
Pour the remaining marinade and a glass of water into the roasting pan. Place on the stove and boil for 2 minutes while grating with a spatula to deglaze the pan.
Filter the sauce using a strainer.
Serve the chicken with sauce, hot tortillas and lime quarters.