This is a relatively simple recipe for some nearly authentic tasting Peruvian-style roasted chicken, and a slightly spicy green dipping sauce that goes really well with it. While authentic Pollo a la Brasa would be cooked on a rotisserie grill, this recipe is for oven baking. I based my recipe on this recipe, which includes some extra tips and a video, with some of the spice quantities nerfed slightly to placate picky eaters. This was my second set of international dishes I’ve been experimenting with as part of one of my 2023 annual goals of cooking new dishes from each of the inhabited continents.
Peruvian Chicken (Pollo a la Brasa) Recipe
- 6-8lb whole chicken
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup lime juice (~2 limes)
- 8-12 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 4 tsp paprika
- 4 tsp white sugar
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp oregano
- Start by making sure the chicken is properly thawed in the fridge, if it was previously frozen. This should take ~24hrs per 5lb of chicken. Once thawed make sure to remove any giblets or other innards, make sure the chicken is patted dry with paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 475F.
- Use your fingers to carefully separate the skin from the meat around each end of the opening, and place the chicken on a roasting pan rack.
- Mince the garlic, and in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, kosher salt, paprika, white sugar, black pepper, and oregano.
- Spoon some of the spice mixture under the loosened chicken skin so it can be in direct contact with the meat. Also coat the outside of the chicken with the mixture, using a cooking brush. If you have chicken string, you can use it to tie the legs together, if desired. I would suggest orienting the bird with the breast facing upward.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, place the chicken in the oven and roast it at 475F for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, use a baster to base the chicken with juices, while lowering the oven’s cooking temperature to 350F.
- Roast the chicken in the oven at 350F until it is at a safe temperature of at least 165F. For this sized bird, this should take approximately 1hr 15min. Baste the chicken every 20-30min during this time.
- Once the chicken is up to temperature, remove it from the oven, and let it rest for 10-15min before cutting/serving. It is best eaten hot with a side of the hot dipping sauce, and either roasted potatoes or homemade french fries.
If you have an air fryer large enough to roast a whole chicken, you can also cook it in the air fryer. In that case, I would put it in, with the breast side down initially, and roast it at 360F for 30min, basting it every 15min, flip it over to breast-side-up after 30min, and then roast it for another 20min at 360F, basting every 10min, and checking the final temperature to make sure it’s at least 165F. When cooked, the skin should be fairly dark in many spots, but not burned.
[Update 1/28/2024: At my brother, Jeremy’s recommendation, I tried making this using bone-in/skin-on chicken thigh pieces instead of a whole chicken, and it worked really well. It still tasted just as good, and cooked a lot faster. I used the same ~8lb of chicken, but didn’t try separating the skin to coat it with the marinade — I just dipped the pieces in the bowl to make sure they were thoroughly coated, then put on the baking sheet. I cooked the pieces at the same 475F for 20min, basted them with drippings, then put them back in for another 20min at 350F, and all but one of the pieces was clearly above the 165F threshold by that point. I think if I had spaced them out a bit more evenly, all of them would’ve been done by that point. So, it’s a little more Americanized than doing the whole bird, but has the same great taste, and a lot less time or work.]
Peruvian Green Dipping Sauce (Aji Verde)
- 1 cup (loosely packed) of fresh cilantro
- 1-2 whole jalapeño peppers
- 1/2 – 1 Tbsp aji amarillo paste
- 2 Tbsp grated cojita cheese
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- Puree all of the ingredients in a blender, and refrigerate until time to serve.
That’s literally it. Just toss it all in a blender, puree it, and then let it chill while the chicken cooks.
- If you don’t live near a Latin American grocery store that carries the paste, you can buy Aji Amarillo paste on Amazon. Theoretically you could substitute a habañero pepper, but I haven’t tried that.
- If you can’t find cojita cheese, grated parmesan cheese can be used as a substitute.
- If you want a less spicy sauce, you can remove the seeds from the jalapeños before adding them in, and use the lower range of the amount of recommended peppers and aji amarillo paste.