Peruvian chicken is a flavor-packed dish that works equally well in leftover meals. Skimming through old copies of Cook’s Illustrated a few years ago, I came across this recipe for Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken. I was intrigued since it was roasted on a beer can! Since most of my favorite cooking magazines are now defunct, (Cooking Light, Gourmet) this is the only I still get by snail-mail.
I’ve since dispensed with roasting it on a beer can as it isn’t really worth the bother. You can totally skip the beer can, and bake it on a vertical roaster like this one, or just brush the marinade on the chicken and bake. (This post was originally published on January 14th, 2013. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
The Peruvian chicken looked delicious, and sounded perfectly manly and hearty. There’s always a little trepidation when trying a new recipe. As good as it reads, there’s no guarantee that it will knock anyone’s socks off. These days, I really do strive to knock socks off.
All around sounds of pleasure accompanied this Peruvian chicken recipe, and the family deemed this a “do-over”! The homemade mayonnaise is a must! My 22 year old kept going back for spoonfuls of the aioli-like, spicy mayonnaise. (Which actually wasn’t really very spicy at all!)
The original recipe called for a fiery hot habanero chili, but I substituted a flavorful, but milder serrano chili to tone it down for my family, but if you love spicy, stick with the habanero. I’ve also eliminated the 1 tablespoons of sugar from the original recipe.
Why is it called “Peruvian chicken”?
Originally brought to Peru by Swiss immigrants, it’s traditionally cooked on a spit (or that vertical roaster!) No matter how it’s prepared, Peruvian chicken or “pollo a la brasa” is traditionally served with a mayonnaise based sauce.
Marinade for Peruvian chicken
While the actual cooking doesn’t take very long, for the best flavor, you’ll want to prepare the marinade the day before you plan to roast. Marinate the bird overnight in a zip lock bag, and the following day cook it in the oven in just around an hour. While the bird is roasting, you can make the spicy mayonnaise.
- Olive oil
- mint leaves
- garlic (6 cloves!)
- smoked paprika
- dried oregano
- zest and juice from 2 limes
- habanero or serrano chili (depending on how spicy you like it!)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Whole chicken or chicken pieces.
The original recipe called for a roasting chicken. I find it easier and quicker to just buy pieces, especially since our family prefers thighs and legs over breast meat. If you’re buying a whole chicken, aim for around 3 1/2 to 4 pounds. If using pieces, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds should easily feed a family of 4 with leftovers.
How to make the spicy mayonnaise
The spicy mayonnaise can be made the day before, or while the chicken is cooking.
Ingredients for spicy mayo:
- 1 large egg (or egg substitute if you don’t feel comfortable about using a raw egg)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoons mince shallot (or onion)
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup olive or avocado oil
- Process all ingredients except oil in food processor until finely chopped. About 10 seconds.
- With machine running, slowly drizzle oil in a steady stream until mayonnaise like consistency is reached. Scraping down bowl as necessary.
Store leftover mayonnaise in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What to serve with Peruvian chicken
Leftover Peruvian chicken? Any leftover chicken would be delicious in this Mexican chicken soup.
Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves lightly packed
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 limes, finely grated zest and juice, about 1/4 cup
- 1 teaspoon habanero chile minced. (or 2-3 teaspoons serrano, minced).
- 3 pounds chicken pieces
- Process all ingredients except for the chicken in a blender or food processor until a smooth paste forms, 10 to 20 seconds. Using fingers loosen skin over chicken pieces. Rub half of the paste beneath skin of chicken. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste. Place chicken in a gallon-size zipper bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
Baking the Peruvian Chicken
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place chicken pieces on a rack on a baking pan or sheet. Roast until skin just begins to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees F. About 35 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F.
- When oven is heated to 500 degrees F. Roast chicken pieces until entire skin is browned and crisp and thermometer registers 160 degrees F. inserted into the breast and 175 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh, about 15 minutes
- Serve with spicy mayonnaise.
- If using a whole chicken you can roast on a spit or vertical roaster.