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Mexicali Chicken {Vintage Recipe}

Photo of Mexicali Chicken ©ModernRetroWoman.com
Mexicali Chicken adapted from a recipe by Mrs. Pete Roberts in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, June, 1953; ©ModernRetroWoman.com


Being native Californians who lived for almost 10 years in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, The Mister and I have had our fair share of authentic Mexican cuisine  (We really miss the Korean BBQ and Mexican fusion burrito stand that was just around the corner from our place in Los Angeles).  So I’m always a little dubious when I come across a vintage recipe that claims to be a California Mexican dish…especially one created by a Midwesterner…like this one by Mrs. Pete Roberts from Sparta, Missouri.  Mrs. Roberts’ recipe was featured in the tested recipes section of the June, 1953, issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  But the recipe seemed easy so I thought I’d give it a try.

The sauce that the chicken is cooked in is quite good…if you like Missouri-style barbecue sauce.  In fact, I may use this recipe to make barbecue sauce (pureeing the veggies so it isn’t chunky). But, no, this chicken doesn’t live up to it’s “Mexicali” name at all.

However, I’m willing to cut Mrs. Roberts some slack.  After all, this was submitted during the era when people ate Chung King canned “Chinese” food.

Verdict:  Easy recipe and tasty.  Just don’t expect anything tasting even remotely Mexican when you enjoy it.

Mexicali Chicken
Serves 5
Chicken baked in a tasty barbecue sauce adapted from a vintage recipe. Despite its name, it doesn't taste Mexican but is still good nonetheless!
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  1. 1 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken (cut up) or chicken pieces
  2. 1/2 cup shortening or other fat
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 2 Tablespoons oil
  5. 1/2 cup chopped celery
  6. 1/4 cup diced green pepper
  7. 1 cup ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup)
  8. 1 cup water
  9. 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  10. 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  11. 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Melt fat in a heavy skillet; brown chicken in fat.
  2. Pour oil into a medium saucepan. Cook onion until tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the onion and bring to a boil.
  4. Arrange chicken in a baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 350ºF oven for 30 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and bake for another 30 minutes or until done.
Adapted from Mrs. Pete Roberts from June, 1953, Better Homes and Gardens
Adapted from Mrs. Pete Roberts from June, 1953, Better Homes and Gardens

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  1. As a native Californian, from San Diego to be exact, the hardest part of living in Oregon is the lack of authentic Mexican food. I’ve found it. But it’s not on every corner like back home, lol. There’s is coffee on every corner. Too bad I don’t care for it. Oh well.

    1. At least, Sarah, there are more options in the city, right? Right? Pleaaaasssse tell me I’m right!

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