Panamanian Garlic Chicken from Saveur Magazine, June/July 2013

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I love it when food has a story. That’s one of the reasons that I make dishes from magazines instead of just grabbing something from online or a cookbook. Magazines weave a tale between the ingredients and infuse the instructions with aroma, texture and sound.

This special grilling issue from Saveur is no different. I’ve carried it with me from place to place, reading the pages in my free time and while sitting on hard bleachers during Dudette’s Tae Kwon Do practices.

Each perfectly executed grilled dish has a story. Whether it’s coming across, and joining a boat captain building a driftwood fire on the beaches of Jamaica so he can grill fresh snapper or stopping a car in Panama simply because the aroma of grilling chicken wafting through an open window was overwhelmingly delicious, the tales draw me in.

I’ve had a few of these experiences myself; being invited to eat shellfish plucked straight out of the nets on the beaches of Colonia Vicente Guerrero in Mexico or joining the line at a town festival so I can snag a bit of pit-roasted whole pig, pushing aside any concerns about food safety issues (but I’ll admit that it was dumb to do so even though I didn’t get sick).

I don’t think I’ll ever visit Jamaica, or Thailand, or Panama. So, I’m grateful to these people who have done so, tasted the wonderful food and brought it to me. And to you.

The Process

Easy. Friends, the hardest part about making this chicken was peeling 25 cloves of garlic and with the tips and tricks we all know for doing it, it took no time at all. It was a simple matter of dumping ingredients in a food processor (or blender, which is what I used) and letting it whirl until smooth.

Once ready, the marinade is poured on the chicken, which goes in the refrigerator to rest overnight.

See how simple that is?

The Verdict

I’m so glad that Todd Coleman, the author of this story and recipe, answered the siren call of the grill smoke and pulled over. This chicken is delicious. Amazingly, the marinade wasn’t overwhelmed by the garlic. It was there, but the zing from the vinegar, flavor of citrus from the orange juice and earthy warmth from the allspice all came through. But, not very strongly. Both Hubby and I thought the flavors would be more pronounced and were surprised at how mild they were.  Even so, all three of us enjoyed this thoroughly.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a thing.

Panamanian Garlic Chicken from Saveur Magazine, June/July 2013
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Grilling
Cuisine: Panamanian
Serves: 4
  • 1 (3-4-lb.) chicken, quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 25 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teasppoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  1. Place chicken and bay leaves in a bowl. Purée garlic, salt, and 2 tbsp. water in a food processor to a smooth paste. Add juice, vinegar, black pepper, Worcestershire, and allspice; purée until smooth. Rub mixture over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner off on one side (see "Grilling 101"). Remove chicken from marinade; grill on hottest part of grill, flipping once, until slightly charred and cooked through, 25-30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165°. If the outside starts to burn before the chicken is fully cooked, move to the cooler side of the grill until done.
What I'd Do Different Next Time
I would up the salt to a tablespoon instead of two teaspoons.


It’s hard to believe my month with this issue of Saveur is almost over. I’ve enjoyed every one of the dishes I’ve made and will most likely return to the magazine for a few more before summer’s over. After all, there’s a steak on the cover that’s calling my name.

0 thoughts on “Panamanian Garlic Chicken from Saveur Magazine, June/July 2013

  • August 1, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I love a good chicken dish with lots of garlic. :) YUM!

  • July 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    You should totally go to Thailand. It's beautiful and delicious! I think I need to make this grilled chicken this week, love it for summer!

  • July 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Your chicken dishes have been calling me this summer! I just put the 2 breasts for our dinner into the fridge with this marinade, with a couple of substitutions, 'cause I didn't have everything on hand. Can't wait! (I grated the garlic on my zester straight over the chicken, then tossed in the salt and a bit of water and mixed it up with my hands…I hate washing the food processor) :)

    • July 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

      It's this issue of Saveur…you know that I don't usually tout the magazines the way I have with this one, but I just had to. Every single page has a recipe I want to keep. You didn't say anything about orange juice or vinegar. Or allspice. Those flavors were very much there.


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