Origin: South America, Peru
Method: Grill/Smoker, RotisserieJump to Recipe
Peruvian Roast Chicken with Aji Verde
There are few things greater in life than a perfectly cooked roast chicken. In the world of roasted yardbirds, few do it better than the Peruvians. Whenever we happen upon a Peruvian restaurant during our travels, we know that getting some juicy succulent chicken is a must. Pair it with Aji Verde, which may be the world's most perfect condiment, and we are in poultry heaven. Whether it be Pio Pio in New York or El Inka Peruvian cuisine in Portland, Oregan, our family loves roast chicken.
Much like their ancestral Incans, Peruvians have a strong sense of community. A common fundraising event to help families in need is to hold a Pollada. These parties bring the community together as chickens are roasted and barbequed to help raise money. I can't think of a more delicious way to help out a neighbor in need.
Although Peruvian roast chicken is traditionally done with whole chickens, in our version of Pollo a la Brasa we elected to do this recipe with Cornish game hens. Our kids love the fact that they get their own "little chicken" and the portions are almost perfect.
Preparing the Marinade for the Pollo a la Brasa
We have provided 2 different marinade options for the chicken. Both are packed with flavor. The first marinade uses commonly found ingredients for those that do not want to purchase the authentic Peruvian pepper pastes. Even though it is lacking that final degree of authenticity, it is in no way lacking in flavor, and this marinade was our kids favorite.
For this version of marinade you will need black pepper, oregano, cumin, mustard powder, white wine vinegar, rosemary, lime juice, and a dark beer such as a stout. Chop the rosemary and combine all of the marinade ingredients.
The second marinade is a bit more authentic and will likely require a trip to a Latin grocery or ordering the Peruvian pastes online. For this marinade you will need black pepper, cumin, mustard powder, garlic cloves or garlic squeeze, Panca paste, Aji Amarillo paste, soy sauce, vinegar, dark beer (such as a stout), lime juice, and Huacatay (black mint) paste. These pepper pastes are very common in Peruvian dishes including our Peruvian Anticuchos de Pollo: Peruvian Chicken Skewers and Lomo Saltaldo. You will also need some of these pastes for the Aji Verde so we recommend buying them. Most are available on Amazon and I have included links above.
Mince the garlic if you are using whole cloves and then mix with all of the remaining ingredients.
The marinades make enough to season 4 Cornish game hens or about 2 roasting chickens. Both recipes are easily doubled if you want to roast more chickens.
Remove the Cornish hens from their packaging and pat dry. In a bowl of large bag, cover the chickens with the marinade. Use your finger to try to get some of the marinade under the skin of the breasts and thighs. Marinate the chickens overnight in the refrigerator.
Roasting the Peruvian chicken
Remove the Cornish game hens from the marinade and place onto your rotisserie skewer. If desired, you can truss the chicken, but it is not absolutely necessary.
Preheat your grill or smoker to 300 degrees. We like to roast the chicken over a mild fruit wood like apple or cherry, but you can use your favorite.
Cook the chicken until the internal temp in the thickest part of the breast and thigh is 165 degrees. This typically takes about 1.5 hours but can vary quite a bit so start checking after about 1 hour.
We like to baste the chicken with the remaining marinade about every 15 minutes for the first hour. The marinade is a source for cross contamination so be sure you cook the chicken at least 30 minutes after the last time you baste. You can also bring the excess marinade to a boil prior to basting to kill off any food borne organisms.
If you are looking for more rotisserie recipes, be sure to check out this Brazilian Picanha. It is our families absolute favorite way to cook this flavorful cut of beef: Rotisserie Picanha.
Preparing the Aji Verde
No Peruvian roast chicken dinner is complete, without a side of Aji Verde. This colorful sauce is packed full of flavor from the Aji Amariilo, garlic, cilantro, and Huacatay (mint paste).
Make the Aioli
The Aji Verde for this recipe is a million times better when you use fresh aioli. You can find the recipe and technique for our Scratch Aioli here. It is quick and simple to make. If you are not feeling up to making the aioli from scratch, you can substitute mayo with a little garlic added in, but it is not nearly as good.
Have extra aioli? It will keep for a couple weeks in the refrigerator. Use it on sandwiches or try out these awesome Korean Lettuce Wraps with Gochujang Aioli: Korean Style Beef and Lamb Lettuce Wraps.
Finish the Aji Verde
Prepare the Aji Verde while the chickens are roasting , or you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
In a food processor, combine 2 jalapenos, 1 garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and 2 green onions. Pulse to a fine chop.
Next, add in 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of Aji Amarillo, 1 teaspoon of Huacatay, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 cup of cilantro. Pulse again to combine. Finally, in a small bowl, combine the mixture from the food processor with about ½ cup of aioli and whisk well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Finishing the Peruvian Roast Chicken
When the chicken is finished cooking, carefully remove the skewer from the grill.
Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before removing from the skewer.
At this point, you can serve the Cornish game hens whole, with a side of the Aji Verde. We, however, prefer to halve them. To halve the chickens, simply cut along the spine with some heavy duty kitchen shears, then cut through the breast bone to separate the halves.
Plate the chicken with some cilantro and the Aji Verde, and prepare to dig into some of the most flavorful, juicy chicken you have ever had.
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Peruvian Roast Chicken: Pollo a la brasa
- Grill or Smoker or Rotisserie
- food processor
- 4 Cornish Game Hens
- ¼ cup White Wine Vinegar
- ¼ cup Stout Beer
- 2 Tab Lime Juice
- 2.5 Tab Oregano
- 2.5 Tab Cumin
- 2 Tab Black Pepper
- 1 tea Rosemary chopped
- ½ tea Mustard ground
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Vinegar
- ¼ cup Stout Beer
- ¼ cup Lime Juice
- 12 cloves Garlic or 2 Tab Garlic Squeeze
- 2 Tab Panca Chili Paste
- 2 Tab Yellow Chili Paste (Aji Amarillo)
- 1 Tab Huacatay (black mint)
- 1 tea Black Pepper
- 1 tea Cumin Powder
- 1 tea Mustard Powder
- ½ cup Aioli
- 2 Jalapenos
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 tea Lime Juice
- 1 Tab Aji Amarillo
- 1 tea Huacatay (black mint)
- 1 Tab Olive Oil
- 1 cup Cilantro
- ¼ tea Salt
- ¼ tea Black Pepper
- 2 Green Onions
- Combine your marinade ingredients in a large bag and mix well. Add the chicken to the bag and coat well with the marinade. Try to get some of the marinade up under the skin of the breast and thighs.
- Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 300 degrees. Place the chickens on the rotisserie skewer and reserve the extra marinade.
- Roast the chickens until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the thickest past of the breast and thigh. This typically takes about an hour and a half but can vary greatly so start checking the temp after about an hour.
- Optional: Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade about every 15-20 minutes during the first hour. DO NOT BASTE THE CHICKEN WITH UNCOOKED MARINADE THE FINAL 30 MINUTES. You may also choose to bring the extra marinade to a boil first at which time you can baste the chicken for the entire duration of the cook.
- When your chickens have reached temp, remove them from the grill or smoker and let them rest for about 5 minutes. At this point you can serve them whole, or cut into halves with sturdy kitchen shears.
Making the Aji Verde
- Prepare a recipe for aioli. If you do not want to make the aioli from scratch you can substitute mayonnaise with a clove of minced garlic, but the fresh aioli is well worth the 5 minutes of effort.
- In a food processor, combine 2 jalapenos, 1 garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and 2 green onions. Pulse to a fine chop.
- Next, add in 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of Aji Amarillo, 1 teaspoon of Huacatay, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 cup of cilantro. Pulse again to combine.
- Finally, in a small bowl, combine the mixture from the food processor with about ½ cup of aioli and whisk well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.