Peruvian Roast Chicken (Pollo a la Brasa)

This flavor-packed Pollo a la Brasa is a fan favorite at Chef Erik Ramirez’s restaurant, Llama Inn. The marinade blends powerful ingredients from East and West, but it’s the aji verde, a cilantro-chile sauce, that truly completes the dish.
Save Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 day 3 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings
Share This Recipe

Ingredients

Chicken

13 ounces ground bean sauce (fermented soybean paste), preferably Lee Kum Kee brand; available online and Asian specialty stores

1/2 cup aji amarillo paste (yellow hot pepper paste), preferably Doña Isabel brand, available online and Latin specialty stores

3 tablespoons chicken stock, or water

3 tablespoons ground cumin

1/4 cup sunflower oil, or any neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed

6 cloves garlic, about 3 tablespoons minced

4 sprigs oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano), about 3 tablespoons minced

3 1/2 pounds whole chicken

Aji Verde

1 poblano pepper

3 jalapeño peppers

1 bunch cilantro, cold

1/2 cup white wine vinegar, cold

1 large egg yolk, cold

1 cup canola oil, cold

Kosher salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Marinade: In a bowl, mix together ground bean paste and aji amarillo paste. Add chicken stock, cumin, and sunflower oil. Peel garlic cloves, then use a Microplane to grate the garlic into the marinade. Finely chop oregano and add it to the marinade. Stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Marinate chicken: Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a rack. Spoon marinade onto chicken, liberally covering all surfaces of the bird, including the cavity. Carefully place a heaping tablespoon of the marinade under the skin of each breast. Marinate, covered or uncovered, in the refrigerator, at least overnight and up to 24 hours. (Note: You'll have enough marinade for 2 chickens. Store leftover marinade in a lidded container in the refrigerator up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.)
  3. Roast chicken, part 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably convection. Meanwhile, remove chicken from the refrigerator and let rest at room temperature 20–30 minutes. Roast for 20–25 minutes. (Total roasting time will be 45–60 minutes, depending on oven and size of the bird.)
  4. Aji Verde, part 1: Roast poblano and jalapeño peppers by placing directly over the flame of a gas burner set to medium-high. Char on all sides. (Alternatively, peppers can be roasted on a grill or under a broiler in the oven for 8–10 minutes, or until charred.) Place charred peppers in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rest, 20–30 minutes. Steam will continue to cook the peppers and soften the skin for easy removal.
  5. Roast chicken, part 2: After the first 20–25 minutes, rotate the chicken 180 degrees and continue roasting, another 20–35 minutes. Check temperature: A thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, should register 160 degrees F. (Temperature will continue to rise after removing chicken from oven.) If necessary, continue roasting and rotating the pan, 10 minutes at a time, until temperature reaches 160 F. Then remove from oven and let rest, 20 minutes.
  6. Aji Verde, part 2: After the peppers have rested, remove plastic wrap. Under running water, use your fingers to gently remove charred skin, stems and seeds. Dry peppers between layers of paper towels and set aside. Remove cilantro leaves and set aside, discarding the stems. Place peppers into a blender, followed by cilantro, vinegar, and egg yolk. Starting the blender at low speed, gradually raise it to medium-high to combine, 10 seconds. With motor on, slowly drizzle in half of the oil to begin emulsifying the sauce. Turn off blender, scrape down the sides, and salt to taste. Turn on blender and continue drizzling in the remaining oil. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
  7. Carve chicken: As you carve, try to keep the skin intact for maximum flavor distribution. First, cut away the thigh and leg in one piece; then separate the thigh from the leg. Repeat on other side. Cut down the center breastbone to remove the breast meat from the bone; cut the breasts in half crosswise. Remove the wings. Arrange chicken on a serving platter and serve with Aji Verde on the side.