Peruvian Chicken with Aji Verde

Peruvian Chicken with Aji Verde

Hey, I’m back! I got lost in summer for the last few weeks but the recent cold winds has me running back inside.

It’s funny that as the end of summer approached I’m actually excited. I start to miss my winter layers (the clothing type) and using the oven for roasts and things. It might also help that my personal project Grill Master 2014 wasn’t much of a success. Meat that’s raw and burnt all at the same time? No thanks!

While I’m not much of a fan of chicken I love a crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside roast chicken. Peruvian chicken or Pollo ala Brasa  is really easy, delicious and great for a spectrum of palates.  I expect that I can serve it to my parents when they come over without them dousing it with achaar or hot sauce.

Peruvian chicken that we find in restaurants today has evolved into something much different than what it used to be. You can find variations that include as little as salt and others with as many as 12 ingredients like soy sauce, bouillon (what?), huacatay paste and beer.

Since finding that the origins of Peruvian chicken are a Swiss man, some chickens, salt and a charcoal driven rotisserie and the current trend of a spiced chicken, I feel I have the right to make up my own version. After all, there are Peruvians out there that are looking for the golden ticket recipe (it doesn’t exist).

I quartered the chicken because I don’t really like wrangling with a whole cooked bird but you can roast it whole or spatchcocked as well. Just keep in mind that it will have a longer roasting time. If you don’t have the patience to slow roast, you can crank up the heat to 400°F for much less time but it won’t have fall-of-the-bone appeal of a slow roasted chicken.

Peruvian chicken is best served with Aji Verde sauce and a plate of fries although I chose to go with fried plantains for reasons related to winter layers (not the clothing kind).

My recipe for Aji Verde recipe is inspired by (the now closed) Nuela in New York, which doesn’t use mayonnaise as most recipes do. Instead, oil in slowly drizzled into the the blender to produce a creamy emulsion. This recipe makes a ton but the flavours pair well with almost anything. I may have used it for a marinade once, too!

Peruvian Chicken with Aji Verde
Serves 3-4

Ingredients for Peruvian Chicken:

  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken, skin on and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Zest and juice of two small limes
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Ingredients for Aji Verde (makes 1½ cups):

  • 2 tablespoons aji amarilla paste (easily found at South American supermarkets)
  • Juice of two small limes
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • ⅓ cup fresh oregano leaves
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 green onions, rough chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, deseeded (keep the seeds if you want a spicy sauce)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, avocado or macadamia nut oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

In a food processor add all the ingredients for the chicken into a food processor until it forms into a paste or if you don’t want to dirty an appliance add all the spices to a bowl….

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….With lime zest and garlic grated on a microplane.

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Add all the wet ingredients: lime juice, coconut aminos and oil, and combine into a paste.

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Marinate the pieces of chicken by rubbing it all over and into the cavity between the skin and meat. Let the chicken marinate for 1 hour in a room temperature setting or covered in the fridge for a few hours.

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When you’re ready to roast, remove the chicken from the fridge and preheat the oven to 300°F. In a large oven safe pan heat a little oil on medium-high heat and place the pieces of chicken flesh side down and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to the hot oven and set the timer to 2 hours. You may also roast the chicken on a wire rack set over a foil-lined tray.

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At the end of the 2 hours period you should have a chicken with dark crispy skin. The chickens temperature should register at 165°F in the thickest parts of the chicken. If it hasn’t, tent a piece of foil over the chicken and roast it for a little longer.

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To make the Aji Verde, add green onions and the jalapeño pepper to a hot pan with a little oil and fry until they are soft.

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In a blender, add the lime juice, aji amarillo paste, green onions, jalapeño….

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…And all the herbage.

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Blend until it achieves a smooth consistency, with a little water if it needs some help.

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Slowly drizzle oil through the blender’s lid.

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You should end up with a smooth, creamy sauce like this.

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Serve.

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