The Pollo Loco challenge

Joined Mar 10, 2004
When I lived in California, I really loved to go to El Pollo Loco (the crazy chicken) and eat thier flame broiled chicken.

They marinated it with a recipe that I found at attributed as to having been published in the Orange County Register (newspaper) so I have that 'covered', and it was just so good that I haven't since found another purveyor of similar as good.

The challenge for me is in finding out how in the heck they cut those chickens so they would lay SO flat while on the brazier? Anyone know?

Uh, before we go off on a tangent, they were not cut up into pieces or into halves before cooking. But then after cooking they would usually whack 'em into pieces, unless asked not to. But not before cooking.
Joined Dec 12, 2000
Not knowing anything about the restaurant you are talking about. I would guess that they cut the back bone off of the chickens, that's the only way I can think that they could get them to lay flat.
Joined Oct 28, 1999
If you are looking for the technique that CoolJ mentioned, Alton Brown did an episode on roasted chicken that uses the "back bone removed" process. The episode of good Eats is entitled "A Bird in the Pan".
Joined Mar 10, 2004
Thank you coolJ and Jim. I've printed the recipe Jim cited out.

I'm still looking for more on the whole process that anyone might know of it. :)
Joined Jul 3, 2002
Pollo Loco is the only fast food I have ever willingly eaten. :D It really is pretty darned good.
Ken, could you please post the recipe you found or the link to it? There's no "" that I can find and Google turns up several different versions of the recipe.
Joined Dec 12, 2000
That's exactly where I got that technique fropm Jim. Good Eats !!. That's about the only show I miss since i don't have foodtv anymore.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
I live in the west and have seen El Pollo Loco in operation and yes it is so good . I am not privy to the marinade but I know how they cook em . They take marinated halved chickens with the backbones removed and charbroil till done . Served with hot tortillas , beans , rice , corn cob and salsa as sides wow .
I have been doing this at home for several years now and Ive got the marinade pretty close I think . I use Lemon juice , Lime juice,Orange juice, a little diced Jalapeno pepper , Onion , Garlic and Cilantro and corn oil.Salt and Pepper to taste and I let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours in this . I baste it a couple of times while I am charbroiling it and man is this good !
As far as cutting the chickens go , well at El Pollo Locos they use a meat cleaver and when it is done there is three pops , wack the breast off , wing off breast , and then pop the leg and thigh .
This is realy good to impress people with and soooo good to eat .
OK , Lets eat , Doug................................
Joined Mar 10, 2004
Emily, would you believe that I printed that recipe out and didn't get the URL? :eek: However, here is the recipe:

El Pollo Loco Marinade
Yield: 6 servings


6oz pineapple joice
2T lime juice
1T white vinegar
2cl garlic minced
1/2t salt
1/2t died oregano, crumbled
1/8t ground black pepper
1/4t chile pepper, mild, minced
8dr yellow food coloring
1T vegetable oil
4lb frying chicken, cut, flattened

(Recipe by: Orange County Register.)

In a small bowl combine all ingredients except chicken, measure out 1/4C marinade and reserve for basting while grilling. Place chicken in a shallow glass baking dish and cover with marinade. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning at least once.

Remove the chicken from refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking time. Drain chicken and grill over medium coals for 25 to 35 minutes or until no traces of pink color remain, turning every 10 minutes. Baste frequently with the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade while cooking.


It isn't, it is and the link is @=>

coolJ & Jim Gotta luv Alton Brown... got one of his recipes, too (and 2 of his books), but it is for "Broiled, Butterflied Chicken" in the oven. Looks good, might try it sometime. His recipe is found in Recipes at cJ, if you go to the link you can at least keep up with the recipes that he is doing on his show, Good Eats!

Doug, ggod description, and your recipe is highly coincidental to that from the Register and looks really tasty... I'll prolly try that one, too.

Well, pardners, I've got my chicken finally thawed out in the frige and gonna marinate it this afternoon then toss her onto the barby manana.... wish me luck, and I'll letcha know how it turns out. :)
Joined Nov 13, 2003
i know this is a bit off the topic of the origional post but...........

Joined Mar 10, 2004
chef from va,

Yeah, having been a professional instructor, trainer, and instructional systems designer/developer most of my working life, I consider him to be one of the best. :D

Well now, for all ye who've been breathlessly waiting to hear of it, ;) we condcuted the Single Participant Great American El Pollo Loco Flame-Broiled Chicken Cook-Off today... and it was a bust. :mad:


=> Due to a few operational mistakes it looked more like Cajun Blackened Chicken than it did Pollo Loco. :eek: Great B-B-Q, just 'pilot error' in operating it.

=> It didn't taste anything like, both my wife Rosa and I agree, the Pollo Loco that we recall--so much for the veracity of the Food Editor at the Orange County Register, eh? :cry: (new plan)=> Gonna try marinating a chicken overnight in just beer like a Mexican in Ciudad Constitucion, Baja California Sur, serving Pollos alCarbon, told me to do at his restaurant once-upon-a-time... it was scrumptious, too.

=> The 8 drops of yellow food coloring didn't infuse its color into the skin of the bird uniformly even though I turned and tossed it in the marinade several times 'overnight'. :rolleyes: I shall return to using achiote (annato seed) steeped in hot butter as a baste when I want a lustrous golden-orangey-brown color imparted to the skin.

When at once you don't succeed..... try somthin' else! ("retreat, H***! I'm just attacking in another direction!") ;)

All said and done though, it didn't really taste bad... but it sure wouldn't have passed muster at El Pollo Loco and was therefore a disappointment.

Meanwhile, I did learn, too, a bit about cutting up a chicken to make it lie flat. :chef: *pats self on back*
Joined Mar 10, 2004
Well, I can recall that when we were in Germany back in 69~71 we used to spritz chicken, burgers, whathaveyou, on the BBQ to keep the flames down... and it imparted a really good flavor. :)

That is also when we learned from our Puerto Rican compadres to use annato seed in melted butter as a baste for pigs we spitted outdoors during the dead of Winter in the snow to give a great color to them... helped along in that endeavor by a few bottles of rum to stave off the cold. :p
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