Photo by: Colin Campbell

Sweet and smoky Mexican chicken

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2 medium red peppers
3 small cinnamon sticks, freshly ground (or, failing that, 1½ tbsp ground cinnamon)
4 chipotle chillies, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained, seeds and stalks removed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2½ tbsp white wine vinegar
2½ tsp soft brown sugar
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1.75kg whole chicken legs (ie with both drumsticks and thighs), skin-on
20g dark chocolate, finely grated
650g baby maris peer potatoes (or other roasting potato), peeled and halved
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
10g coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Chicken meets chocolate in this rich and distinctive dish. Serves four.


Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the peppers on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, until the skin has blackened. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with cling-film and set aside. Once cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, and discard the skins, seeds and stalks. Put the pepper flesh in the small bowl of a food processor, and add the cinnamon, chilli, garlic, vinegar, sugar, three tablespoons of the oil, a teaspoon and half of salt and three tablespoons of water. Blitz for a minute, until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken legs and chocolate, and mix to coat.

Put both types of potato in a separate large bowl with the onions, the remaining oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well, combine with the chicken, then tip everything on to a large 30cm x 40cm baking tray. Arrange the chicken skin-side up and roast for about 50 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked and nicely coloured. Serve at once, with coriander sprinkled on top.

Perfect with

  1. Ancho chilli

    A chilli that warms and soothes a dish, rather than lighting a fire on centre stage

    Ancho chilli

  2. Urfa chilli flakes

    These dark crimson, sweet-smoky chillies are beautiful to the eye and gentle on the palate

    Urfa chilli flakes


{based on 4 reviews}

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  • Shop delicious
    (24/02/2018) Will definitely be making this again. I'm so into these recipes right now. What an amazing combination. My only problem was the sweet potatoes cooked faster than the rest and were a little mushy. I'm making the halva brownies shortly for an afternoon tea party. Will be back to let you know how they go.
  • Shop Outstanding
    (12/01/2016) Had to sign up just to write a review.

    Made this tonight and it was unbelievably good. Plenty of sauce that coats everything really well. I had slightly less chicken than the recipe which wasn't a bad thing. I also had no chipotle chillis so I roasted some red jalepnos and let them char when I did the peppers and popped them in with a bit of smoked paprika for more smokiness, I'm sure the author would not be impressed but my husband and I certainly were. Has fast become our favourite chicken recipe.
  • Shop Gosh !!!
    (19/10/2015) This recipe is just divine and so is the end product. I cooked this for a group of friends and informed them they were all my guinea pigs for the evening.

    It was relatively easy to make …perhaps the only fiddly bit is removing the skins from the red peppers . Once that is done all really straightforward . I marinated 16 thighs ( prefer them ) for 7 people all day and everything was devoured . I loved the way the sweet potato cooked in the sauce. Everything was delicious . I used a Green and Black cooking chocolate which was present in the dish and subtle which we all liked. Definitely going into my recipe repertoire…Thank you ….PS used Ancho Chillies from Waitrose and a huge cinnamon stick which my Son brought back from Java !!!
  • Shop Fantastic flavours, easy to make
    (15/05/2015) Doubled the recipe for a big lunch, May '15. Recipe easy to follow, dish relatively quick and easy to make (despite Mr. O's reputation for fiddly food). Don't substitute the chipotle chillies - they are crucial! They smell amazing when re-hydrated - fruity and smokey and hot (be aware that they may singe your fingertips when handled post-rehydration, even though they are a comparatively mild chilli, they have a kick). Some people will be tempted not to bother de-skinning the peppers, but I would say do it - it's not that difficult and it's fun! Due to timings I made the marinade the night before the meal and left the chicken in it to soak up the flavours (couldn't hurt, right?). I made sure the dish had some time on a high shelf in the oven as well (with a view to crisping up the chicken skin towards the end of the cook). It's not really a criticism but the influence of the chocolate was a bit too subtle for my palette - next time I make it I might add a bit more of the stuff in. Overall though, both the chicken and roasts tasted incredible: smokey, fruity, hot, earthy - you will want leftovers!