Chipotle Grilled Chicken Thighs with Spicy Tomatillo Sauce
Here, a spicy and slightly sweet rub gives chicken thighs extra flavor. Grill up some tomatillos and avocado, blend them with a few herbs, and you’ve got a healthy dinner hot off the grill in no time. To complete the meal, serve some grilled corn.
Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush for this recipe.
Game plan: If you’re using a wooden skewer, soak it in water for 30 minutes beforehand so it doesn’t burn on the grill.
This dish was featured as part of our Grilled Toppings That Put Barbecue Sauce to Shame.
For the chicken:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons chipotle powder
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the sauce:
- 1 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewer (soak the wooden skewer in water for 30 minutes to avoid burning on the grill)
- Vegetable oil, for coating the vegetables and grill
- 1/2 medium white onion, halved again and the layers separated
- 1/2 pound tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and dried
- 1 avocado, halved and pitted
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1 serrano chile, stemmed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
1Place the salt, coriander, sugar, and chipotle powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Rub the mixture all over both sides of the chicken and place the thighs on a baking sheet. Set aside and let the chicken come to room temperature, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, if you’re using a wooden skewer, soak it in water for at least 30 minutes so it doesn’t burn on the grill, and prepare the grill.
To grill the sauce and chicken:
1Heat an outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F) and rub the grill grate with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Have a pastry brush and a small bowl of oil ready.
2Thread the onion slices onto the skewer, leaving 1/4 inch of space in between the pieces. Brush the onion slices with oil. Place the skewer and the whole tomatillos on the grill, cover the grill, and cook until the onion pieces are slightly softened and charred, turning the skewer halfway through, and the tomatillos are charred on all sides, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes total. Remove everything to a large dish.
3Halfway through the tomatillo and onion cooking time, brush the cut sides of the avocado halves with oil, place them on the grill cut-side down, and cover the grill. Cook the avocado halves until slightly softened and grill marks appear, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to the dish with the tomatillos and onions and let cool. Meanwhile, grill the chicken.
4Rub the grill grate again with a towel dipped in oil. Place the chicken on the grill and cover the grill. Cook, flipping once, until a crust and grill marks have formed and an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 15 to 20 minutes total. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest while you finish the sauce.
5Using a spoon, scoop out the avocado flesh and place it in a blender. Remove the onion slices from the skewer and add to the blender. Add the tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, garlic clove, chile, and measured salt and season to taste with pepper. Blend until just smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula as needed. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve with the chicken.
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