Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

Just about every restaurant in Latin America offers a “daily special”; usually a two-course meal, heavy of the rice and beans, light in the meat department.  Usually it includes soup or salad and is about half-price when compared to ordering al la carte. For two years, that was all I ate. I’d go into a restaurant, ask for the “daily special” and they would serve me maximum calories for minimum price. Until finally, when in Arequipa in Southern Peru, my digestive system could eat no more rice, no more beans, no more fried plantains. Thus began my month of eating Peruvian Roast Chicken. It was simple, delicious and ubiquitous.

Easy as beer-can chicken, but with a nice twist.

(See my post about the America’s Test Kitchen episode here)

This is a new recipe from March 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. The recipe calls for a vertical poultry roasted, but really that’s just a polite way of saying “beer can chicken”.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:30 PM. Ready at 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original version is here. He also suggest this spicy homemade mayonnaise, which I didn’t make  My descriptions of how I cooked it it today are given below:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4-cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 medium garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes
1 teaspoon minced habanero chile (If habanero chiles are not available you can use 1 tablespoon of serrano chile)
1 whole chicken

  1. Add all ingredients (except the chicken) into food processor and pulse until forms a smooth paste, about 20 seconds.
  2. Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the thighs and breasts, and trim away any excess fat as necessary. Rub half of paste beneath skin of chicken, and then apply the remaining paste over the chicken’s exterior. Tuck the wingtips under chicken.
  3. Place your chicken in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag (or a bigger bag depending upon the size of your chicken). Refrigerate overnight (for up to 24 hours).
  4. The next day, adjust your oven rack to the lowest position. Pre-heat to 325-degrees. Drink about half of a 12-ounce can of beer, use a church key to open two additional holes, spray the can with non-stick spray, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Put chicken onto “vertical roaster” so that your chicken is standing upright. Roast about 50 minutes, until the skin begins to turn brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into breast registers 140 degrees.
  6. Remove the chicken and baking sheet from the oven, while you increase the oven temperature to 500-degrees.
  7. Reinsert into oven, then and add 1-cup of water to your pan. Roast about 20-minutes more, until the skin is well browned and crisp, and your thermometer registers 160-to-165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, and registers 175-degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. To ensure even cooking, rotate the chicken 180-degrees halfway through these final 20 minutes. Chris Kimball suggest that if the top of your chicken is becoming too dark, to place a 7-inch-square piece of foil over the neck and wingtips. I had to add more water to keep the pan from smoking.
  8. When your chicken is fully cooked, remove chicken and let rest on “vertical roaster” for 20 minutes. Carefully lift chicken off beer can (using 1 or 2 clean kitchen towels) , place on cutting board, and carve.
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