This Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce (aka pollo a la brasa con ají verde) features an ají amarillo paste, cumin and oregano, and lime juice marinade… It is just as easy to do a Peruvian-style grilled chicken, so the choice is yours! Taking time to spatchcock the chicken makes for more even and quicker cooking, and results in a very moist bird. Served with Ají Verde (Peruvian green sauce), salsa huancaína (Peruvian yellow sauce), and/or salsa criolla, it’s a delicious way to change up your whole chicken game!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks – About 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/breastbone, and often some mechanism to secure the bird in a flat position.
The food police do differentiate, but I don’t, and this is my blog. So, I will describe MY PROCESS:
- Pat your chicken dry prior to getting started (slippery birds are dangerous!)
- Remove the backbone with poultry shears by cutting along both sides first and then cutting off the end
- Use the palm of your hand to press firmly down to flatten the chicken
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!
📋 Ingredients for Grilled or Roasted Peruvian Chicken
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- chicken – This recipe is for a spatchcocked whole chicken. However, the marinade is great on any chicken pieces or on other meats as well.
- fresh lime juice
- ground cumin
- ají amarillo paste – There really is no substitute for ají amarillo paste. You can substitute another pepper paste, but I cannot vouch for the results.
- fresh oregano – Substitute dried oregano leaves if necessary.
- Peruvian sauces – My favorite is ají verde sauce (spicy cilantro sauce). The photo above shows my huancaina sauce (Peruvian yellow sauce), and we love salsa criolla as well.
📋 Ingredients for Spicy Cilantro Sauce
I’m including the ingredients for the spicy cilantro sauce/ají verde here. Please see the ají verde post for instructions.
- cotija – Feta is a good substitute.
- ají amarillo paste – Available in the international foods section in many markets, and online.
- huacatay paste – Available in the international foods section in many markets, and online.
- lime juice – Please use fresh!
- vinegar – White wine or other mild vinegar.
- olive oil
- sea salt
🔪 Instructions for Grilled or Roasted Peruvian Chicken
- Prepare the chicken – Using poultry shears (not kitchen shears) butterfly (or spatchcock) the chicken. Remove the backbone then press down firmly on the breast to flatten the bird.
- Make the marinade – Add all marinade ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
- Marinate the chicken – Rub the prepared marinade all over the chicken. Gently lift the breast skin, and rub marinade beneath the skin as well. Reserve any remaining marinade for basting as it cooks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have the time.
- Cook the chicken – If grilling, preheat grill to medium heat. Place the prepared chicken on the grill with breast and 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. While the chicken cooks, make the ají verde (spicy cilantro sauce), or other sauces.
- Continue grilling until it is cooked through (another 20-30 minutes). Check it with an instant read thermometer to 160-165°. 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.
- If roasting the chicken, preheat your oven to 425°. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes at this temperature (breast up) before turning the temperature down to 375°. Baste with any additional marinade. Continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 160-165°. Tent with foil, and rest at least 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb.
- NOTE: If you want to roast sweet potatoes alongside (it’s fantastic!), add them when you reduce the temperature. Cut them in fairly small pieces, and they should be tender when the chicken is done. See photos for reference.
I have served this Peruvian roasted chicken with ají verde (green sauce), I’m about to publish a recipe for Peruvian yellow sauce, salsa criolla, cilantro rice, a simple Peruvian rice, roasted sweet or regular potatoes, and lima bean salad. They’re all really good!
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.
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.
P.S. Make sure you push the chicken that isn’t going on your plates back far enough… Our dog Madi gobbled up every 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!
Roasted Peruvian Chicken with Ají Verde
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- Butterfly chicken after patting it dry.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor. 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.
- To roast the chicken – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast 15 minutes, brush with remaining marinade. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and continue roasting until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees.
- When the chicken is done remove to a plate and tent with foil. Rest 10 minutes before carving.
- Enjoy with salsas (see post for ideas), fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
🍗 What to Serve with Peruvian-Style Chicken
I almost always serve this grilled Peruvian-style chicken with salsa criolla, ají verde sauce (green chile sauce), and cilantro rice. While the rice is titled “Mexican,” it works with Peruvian meals as well. Peruvians love cilantro!