Pollo a la Brasa... Peruvian Grilled Chicken. I've been wanting to make this dish for several months now...well, ever since this dish was brought to my attention through a phone conversation that I had with my brother. We chatted about this and that... and then he mentioned how he was looking forward to having some Pollo a la Brasa that weekend. Pollo a la Brasa is a classic Peruvian rotisserie-style chicken that's quite flavorful. But I had never heard of this dish before...
The rotisserie-style chicken has become quite popular here in the states. And you'll probably find lots more restaurants that serve Pollo a la Brasa... either on the west coast and/or the east coast...but not so much in Montana:). So it's no wonder why I'd never come across this particular dish before. And it wasn't a surprise to me that my brother knew of this dish as he has the advantage of being married to a sweet Peruvian girl. My brother definitely comes in contact with lots more Peruvian dishes than I do:). In any case, I had him repeat the name of the dish for me and I wrote it down on a piece of paper so that I could make it one day. I went on a search for a recipe recently...
We finally had a warm day... reached close to 80 degs F... it was sooo nice and warm:). It was probably the first real warm day since last summer. While some of you may have had some hot weather for some time now... we on the other hand, had lots of rain with plenty of chilly weather. I mean we had to heat up the house instead of cooling it:). Anyway, I was excited when we finally warmed up a bit and thought it would be nice to make a summery dish while using the grill. Chose to sort of welcome the summer months with Pollo a la Brasa....
While the chicken is ideally cooked rotisserie-style, I decided to use my vertical roaster pan(mimics the popular beer-can method), and it is much simpler to use. The chicken stays quite moist and flavorful... as long as you don't over cook it. And I really like the fact that I don't need to worry about the chicken burning when placed on direct heat. The supervision is minimal... I just basically check it about halfway through the cooking time... and then at the end of the cooking time, when it's close to being done. By now, I know the cooking time is close to 1 1/2 hours... and during that time I usually get the sides ready, clean up, and set the table. And if it's hot outside, using the outdoor grill is the perfect way keep the house cool.
I chose to pretty much follow the recipe from Gourmet magazine... just because it had lots of great reviews. The only change I made was to add some spicy smoked paprika. In the end, I felt I could have used a bit more of the spicy smoked paprika as it wasn't spicy at all. The cumin is quite light and definitely not overpowering... so this is a great dish to make if you want to introduce cumin gently:). While I don't use too much soy sauce in the dishes I make... adding it to this dish brought lots of color to the chicken... as well as flavor.
I am always looking for different ways to make chicken... and this was a great addition to the chicken recipes I make. I also made an aji verde sauce( my way) to go along with the chicken ...I posted the recipe below, as a guide only. Oh, and don't forget the lime wedges to be served with the chicken , as it really brightens the dish up. Hope you enjoy...
Tip: You can use this marinade on boneless chicken thighs, chicken legs...and even breast meat(with the breast meat I would probably marinate it for a few hours only, and use bone-in) and just cook the chicken pieces directly on the grill.
While cooking the chicken on the grill is ideal, I am sure you can use the oven as well... especially if you don't have an outdoor grill.
You will need: adapted from Epicurious/Gourmet
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika*
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon oil
3 1/2 lb whole chicken or quartered
* I used 1/2 tsp regular paprika and 1/2 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1. Whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, pepper, and oil....you can likewise do all this in a blender if you wish.
2. Put chicken in a large sealable bag and add marinade.
3. Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. I suggest at least a 24 hour marination (for a whole chicken) for better flavor...I left mine for 24 hours. During the 24 hour period, turn chicken over a few times(from breast side up to back side up... still in the bag) so the marinade has a chance to penetrate the chicken from all sides.
1. Take out chicken from fridge and bring to room temperature. Discard the marinade... then pat chicken dry( I didn't bother). Place whole chicken in vertical roaster pan or an aluminum can (to mimic the beer-can method)
3. Preheat the grill on high. Lower heat to med-low(more towards the low side) on 2 burners and turn one burner completely off(mine was the middle). Place the chicken on indirect heat...mine was placed in the middle with the middle burner turned off... the 2 side burners were on med-low heat.
4. Grill chicken for 1 1/2 hours...or until thigh register 165 deg. F. Check halfway to ensure even cooking...
5. Let chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Cut in quarters and squeeze lime juice over the chicken. Serve with french fries, rice, salad, Peruvian Aji verde sauce, or whatever you prefer....
Aji Verde... Peruvian Green Chile Sauce(my version)...This is a taste-as- you- go sort of sauce... adjust to preference. Traditionally the sauce is made simply out of green chiles, cilantro, garlic, and oil... there are some versions that add a few extra ingredients to the sauce to make it creamier and bring all the flavors together. It goes wonderfully well with the chicken.
1 bunch of cilantro
1-2 green onions, optional
2- 3 fresh jalapenos, or to taste(in a pinch, you can also use pickled)
1/2 -1 clove of garlic, or to taste
2-3 oz cotija cheese*
*I used queso fresco( because I needed to use it up), but you can probably even use some Parmesan...or omit all together. But I rather like the cheese addition.
Olive oil, about 4 TBS...and adjust as needed
Mix in: totally optional and probably not as authentic, but it does round out the flavors.
Mayonnaise, about 3 TBS...and adjust as needed*
*you can omit the mayo and add extra oil, if you like.
Thin out with:
1/4 cup water, or as needed
Finish off with:
Freshly squeezed lime juice or white/red wine vinegar .
Salt to taste
Drizzle some of the aji verde over the chicken..and enjoy!