I intended to roast a chicken today, but I didn’t know how I wanted it. I opened my pantry door and there was a jar of aji panca in paste. With the chicken and the aji panca on hand I started this recipe for a Peruvian style pollo a la brasa (Peruvian roasted chicken). I realized I have most of the ingredients except dark beer an ingredient essential to this Peruvian pollo a la brasa so I went to the supermarket for a Guinness. I started by mixing a cup of dark beer with some fresh minced garlic, aji panca, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, cumin, rosemary, oregano, salt and black pepper. I was happy my chicken came out very sharp with intense flavor and very tasty.
I served it with rice and tostones, but French fries are also great. For extra flavor and taste I added a side of Peruvian style aji verde (recipe to follow). I decided to also add a simple green salad of arugula and tomatoes to bring in a little acidity and to balance out the subtle heat from the aji.
This recipe calls for dark beer. If you do not have any or if dark beer is not easily found where you live, substitute it for regular beer. Also substitute the aji panca for any other local bold flavorful aji.
Pollo a la brasa is best if it is exposed to coals either on a grill or by rods; also a circulation cooking system or rotisserie work best. However it is not always common to find or have one of these systems at home; therefore, for home cooks, the oven is their best choice.
The technique I used here was to roast the chicken whole in a rack over a baking pan. To the pan I add some liquid or water to keep the moist present and to avoid the chicken from drying out. No basting is needed, however half way through its cooking time I turned the chicken to ensure the chicken skin cooks all around. If you wish you might like to try this technique otherwise bake the chicken in a baking pan.
Another ingredient hard to get is the huacatay (Peruvian black mint). This herb can be substitute for cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, arugula or iceberg lettuces. The aji panca in the chicken and the Amarillo in the salsa verde can be substitute for jalapeños or any other peppers of preference.
The flavor of the huacatay is for sure special, but any green herbs of your preference will do a great job as well.I want to point out as well that the Peruvian ajies used here have a particular flavor. The Peruvian cuisine is greatly influenced by the different kind of ajies or peppers that are abundant in Peru. Each of these peppers is known for given Peruvian dishes a peculiar flavor, heat or color. Nonetheless, I think that even without these peppers the chicken as well as the aji verde will be equally good since at the end it won’t matter especially if you are not at all familiarized with their flavors. And even if you were the chicken is so good you won’t even miss them. Enjoy it!
- For the chicken:
- 1 whole chicken, cleaned
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or mashed
- 1 tablespoon ají panca paste or freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground rosemary
- 1 tablespoon ground oregano
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup of black beer or Guinness
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the Peruvian style aji verde:
- 2 aji amarillos (Peruvian yellow peppers) with or without vein or seeds
- 2 tablespoons huacatay or any other green herbs substitute
- 2 garlic cloves
- A few drops lime juice (optional)
- Olive oil (a your discretion)
- ½ cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
For the chicken:
Trim the chicken of any excess fat and wash well. Dry the chicken with paper towels and place it in a big bowl.
In another bowl mix in all the ingredients, the mashed garlic, aji panca, cumin, rosemary, oregano, Dijon mustard, beer, vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and black pepper.
Pour the mixture over the chicken and rub the spice all over the chicken. Try to get the seasoning under the skin and all inside the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or just place the chicken in a big Ziploc plastic bag and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the fridge at least an hour before. Preheat the oven to 400 º F (200 º C). Truss or at least tied the chicken legs together.
Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and add some water to the bottom of the pan. Cook the chicken for 25 minutes at 400 º F after this lower the heat to 375 º F (190 º C) and continue roasting the chicken for 35 more minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165º, or when its juices run clear when you insert a knife.
For the Peruvian style aji verde:
Puree all the ingredients in a blender, food processor, or nutritbullet. Adjust salt and black pepper as needed.
This post is also available in: Spanish