The marinated and grilled chicken and steak at Chipotle Mexican Grill are the star ingredients for most burritos and burrito bowls served there every day. Looking over ingredient statements, it appears the chicken and beef are marinated in the same secret adobo sauce overnight, according to servers there. Obviously getting the flavor of the adobo marinade is the most important hacking job here, but it’s also important to use the right chicken and cow parts. Chipotle uses only dark meat chicken, so grab yourself some skinless thigh fillets if it’s the chicken you’re cooking up. If you decide to go with the beef, grab a pound and a half of New York strips. Chipotle uses toasted cumin seeds to make a more flavorful ground cumin for this recipe, so I have included that technique in the first step (you can also substitute with bottled ground cumin if you like). You’ll need a coffee/spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the cumin seeds once they’re toasted—you’ll know the seeds are done when your kitchen fills with the toasty aroma. Start this recipe a day ahead so you can give your chicken or steak 16 to 24 hours to soak in the marinade.

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
1½ cups water
¼ cup chopped canned chipotle chilies (rinsed)
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano

1½ pounds skinless chicken thigh fillets or 1½ pounds New York strip steak

Cooking method

1-Toast the cumin seeds in a small sauté pan over medium/low heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until you can easily smell the cumin. Remove the pan from the heat immediately if the seeds begin to smoke. Use a coffee bean grinder or spice grinder to grind the cumin until it is a fine powder.

2-Add the water, chilies, and garlic to a blender and blend on high speed for 10 to 15 seconds or until the garlic and chilies are pureed. Add the other adobo ingredients, including the ground cumin, and blend just until combined—about 5 seconds.

3-If you are preparing steak—and your steaks are on the thick side slice the steak through the middle to make 2 thinner steaks. Add the chicken or steak to the marinade in a large bowl. Cover and chill for 16 to 24 hours.

4-When you are ready to prepare your chicken or steak, preheat your barbecue grill to high heat. You can also cook the chicken on an indoor grill pan on your stove over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until done, and steak for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until done.

5-Allow the chicken or steak to sit for 3 minutes, then dice. Use immediately to make burritos, tacos, bowls, and salads.

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