This Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian-Style Chicken features aji amarillo paste, cumin and oregano, and lime juice in a simple rub… taking time to butterfly/spatchcock the chicken makes for more even and quicker cooking. Served with Peruvian Ají Verde (green sauce) and/or salsa criolla, it’s a delicious way to change up chicken!
A Butterflied or Spatchcocked Chicken
These 2 terms prompt a lot of debate in the culinary world. Haha. Until recently, I thought they were interchangeable. Alas, they are not! However, the difference is quite minor… whether you “butterfly” or “spatchcock” your chicken, you will get more even cooking, the breast is less likely to be dry, and you will save time!
Spatchcock is a specific kind of butterflying technique, for birds. It involves not only removing the backbone but also the keel/breast bone, and often some mechanism to secure the bird in a flat position.
The food police do differentiate, but I dont, and this is my blog. So, I will describe MY PROCESS:
This is the down-and-dirty method. You can certainly snip cartilage, remove the breast bone, and fasten the wings for a prettier result. As you can see from my photos, my chicken wasn’t “pretty.” I can, however, vouch for the fact that it was tender, juicy, and evenly cooked!
If you promise not to laugh, I do have a video that shows the process of butterflying a chicken. It was my first video and not well done!
Making Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian-Style Chicken
My chicken is butterflied (my preferred term), and ready for the marinade. (Note the poultry shears).
Ingredients assembled for the marinade: sea salt, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, ají amarillo paste, fresh (or dried) oregano, and fresh lime juice.
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know I keep ají amarillo paste in my refrigerator, as part of my well-stocked pantry. You’ve seen it in my Ají Verde (a great accompaniment for this recipe), in my Healthier Ají de Gallina, and in my Peruvian Pumpkin Soup. This is a key ingredient in Peruvian cooking, and while you will have a decent marinade without it, the unique flavor is important to the dish.
So onward… after you butterfly the chicken, make the marinade/rub. It’s simple – just add the ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until smooth.
I like to lift the skin of the chicken, and rub the meat with the marinade (yes it’s messy!). Then rub the entire exterior and interior of the chicken as well. Reserve any remaining marinade for basting as it cooks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have the time.
When you’re ready to grill the chicken, preheat grill to medium heat. Place the prepared chicken on the grill with skin side down.
Grill slowly until the fat renders and the skin is golden brown, then turn the chicken over (15-20 minutes). Brush with marinade, and close the lid. Continue grilling until it is cooked through (another 20-30 minutes). I usually do a small 3-4 pound chicken, and it is done in about 35-40 minutes.
Tent with foil, and rest at least 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb. Carve and serve!
P.S. Make sure you push the chicken that isn’t going on your plates back far enough… Our dog Madi gobbled up ever molecule of the remaining delicious grilled chicken while we sat on the patio completely unaware! There was not a bone or drip of sauce in sight!
- 1 whole chicken - 3 to 4 pounds preferably
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 4)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- several grinds fresh ground pepper
- Butterfly chicken after patting it dry.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a food process. Pulse until smooth.
- Rub the marinade in the cavity, under and over the skin of the chicken. Reserve any remaining marinade to baste chicken.
- Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
- When you're ready to grill the chicken, preheat grill to medium heat. Place the prepared chicken on the grill with skin side down. (Breast side down).
- Grill slowly until the fat renders and the skin is golden brown, then turn the chicken over (15-20 minutes). Brush with marinade, and close the lid. Continue grilling until it is cooked through (another 20-30 minutes). I usually do a small 3-4 pound chicken, and it is done in about 35-40 minutes.
- When the chicken is done remove to a plate and tent with foil. Rest 10 minutes before carving.
- Enjoy with salsas (see notes), fresh cilantro, lime wedges.
My Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian-Style Chicken photos show my Peruvian Ají Verde Recipe - a creamy cilantro and ají amarillo sauce, and my Peruvian Red Onion and Tomato Salad (salsa criolla). Finally, we serve it all with Mexican Cilantro Rice. The ingredients are very similar to Peruvian flavors.
Macronutrients are an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com. Yours will vary depending on light/dark meat and how much marinade is consumed.
Save the carcass for stock!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 to 6 Serving Size: 6 ounces
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 410 Total Fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 4g Protein: 40g