This Peruvian roast chicken borrows its Latin American accent from a marinade of paprika, cumin, lemon, and garlic, creating an amazing Technicolor Dream Coat color and a really quite spectacular taste.
An enameled cast-iron gratin dish or a heavy frying pan is a nice choice for this bird so that after it’s cooked the sauce can be made in the same pan. If you like, you can soak the red onion for the salad in an iced water bath for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. This takes away most of the bite.–Mindy Fox
Peruvian Roast Chicken
For the Peruvian roast chicken
- 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
- Fine sea salt
- One (4-pound) chicken
- 1/2 lemon cut into 2 wedges
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons paprika*
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
For the salad (optional)
- 2 avocados
- 1/2 to 3/4 of a small red onion very thinly sliced and soaked in ice water for 10 minutes to lessen its bite
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
Make the Peruvian roast chicken
- Using the flat side of a knife blade, mash the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt together into a paste.
- Rinse and pat the chicken dry, inside and out, and put the chicken on a plate. Rub the chicken all over with the lemon quarters.
- Slip your fingers underneath the skin to loosen it. Slide the garlic paste between the skin and chicken, being careful not to tear the skin. Then smooth the skin to evenly distribute the paste.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of wine, the oil, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and oregano.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish and slather it with the marinade. Turn the bird several times to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 5 to 8 hours, turning the chicken once or twice.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
- Move the chicken to a small roasting pan or 12- to 14-inch cast-iron skillet. Don't toss out the marinade.
- Squeeze the lemon quarters into the cavity of the hen and then toss them in. If desired, tie the legs together with kitchen string. Season the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Roast the bird for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375ºF (190°C). Dump the marinade over the bird and roast, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165ºF (74°C), about 75 minutes more.
Make the salad
- Halve each avocado and dice. Toss the avocados with everything else in a bowl.
Get the food on the table
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes.
- Skim the fat floating on the juices in the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine and simmer, stirring and scraping the pan, for 3 minutes.
- Carve the bird, toss the avocado salad again, and pass the pan sauce on the side. Graciously accept all applause, kudos, and marriage proposals.
*What are the different types of paprika?Paprika is a common ingredient in many cultures, especially Spanish and Hungarian, and there are many, many grades and types of paprika. Paprika in its simplest form is made from ground sweet pepper pods to create the iconic bright red powder. It’s been incorporated into nearly every food culture in the world, from garnishing to coloring to flavoring. The main types of paprika are sweet, hot, and smoked. But wait–both hot and sweet can be smoked, although it’s usually the hot paprika that you’ll find smoked. This recipe leaves it up to you, so use what you think you’ll prefer, because it will absolutely make a difference.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We loved this chicken dish and served it with roasted green beans. It was easy to prepare, and the flavor was wonderful. The chicken had a beautiful color. It did take my chicken about 20 minutes longer to cook than stated in the recipe. Next time, I’ll either cut up the chicken or cook it breast-side down so the thighs can get more heat.
The avocado salad was a nice combination of flavors to serve with this chicken, and very easy to prepare. I just felt it called for too much olive oil, so I’ll reduce the amount next time. As for my concerns, I personally would never baste a chicken using the same marinade without boiling it first. I brought mine to a boil before I started basting the chicken.
I was a little worried when I started to make this dish because I wondered if the chicken would have a strong garlic taste. I followed the recipe exactly and cooked the bird in a cast-iron skillet. The chicken was as moist and juicy as any I have ever had, and the flavor combination was unusual but wonderful.
Making the sauce in the same pan also worked great to get all the little bits. We didn’t love the avocado salad quite as much as the chicken, however. I did soak the onions as suggested, and I only added a tablespoon of the cilantro leaves, but the flavor combination was just OK. I’ll make the chicken again, just not the salad.
The flavors of this dish came together beautifully, and with frequent basting, the chicken turned out very moist. The cool flavors of the avocado salad were the perfect accompaniment to the slightly spicy, smoky flavors of the chicken. I used an oval Le Creuset pan, which worked very well for roasting the chicken. Though I ran out of marinade halfway through the cooking process, I continued basting with the hot pan juices. Soaking the onions in water worked very well to take the bite out of the onions.
TIP: Make the avocado salad while the chicken is roasting rather than waiting until the chicken is out of the oven. The components of the salad need some time to meld, which is better achieved by making it earlier, covering it, and holding it in the refrigerator. The pan sauce can quickly and easily be made at the end. It is absolutely delicious with the flavors from the roasting juices of the chicken.
This Peruvian chicken gets a “The One We Love” designation in my recipe file. The spice blend, along with the garlic paste, made a very flavorful baked chicken, while the baking procedure of starting the chicken in a hot oven and reducing the temperature produced a moist and tender bird.
Since my family is small, leftovers are a fact of life. I re-warmed the chicken two days later and, although the skin was no longer crisp, the chicken tasted exactly as it did initially. One caveat regarding the amount of garlic: five cloves is a lot of garlic. My family likes garlic, but I’d be cautious about serving it to guests just based on that amount alone.
I also have an issue with calling the spice blend a marinade—to me, it was more of a wet rub, as there wasn’t enough liquid to be a true marinade. I added additional tablespoons of wine to the bag in order to cover the chicken evenly. The combination of the creamy and somewhat tart avocado salad with the spicy chicken produced a blast of flavor on the tongue and a fabulous color combination on the plate. This recipe has become a member of my go-to baked chicken recipes.
The bird came out quite juicy and flavorful, with a crisp skin, while the avocado salad provides a little richness and acidity. There wasn’t, however, much juice in the pan to make any sort of pan sauce— it was mostly oil and fond. Overall, this chicken is easy to make if you have the time to let it marinate.
This was a delicious way to roast chicken. The marinade yielded a wonderful, rich flavor from the spices, oil, wine, and white wine vinegar. I also liked the garlicky flavor from rubbing the paste under the skin.
The final touches of lemon juice before marinating, and then adding additional juice to the cavity before roasting, seemed to make it all come together with a bright flavor. The juicy, tender chicken was complemented by the crunchy bites of the avocado and onion salad. I’d make this salad again, with or without the chicken. Everything went together wonderfully.
The ingredients in this Peruvian chicken recipe give it a superb garlicky, spicy flavour with a hint of citrus. Using lime juice to make the dressing for the avocado salad compliments the chicken, and rounds out a really nice flavour experience with a tangy coolness.
The method of loosening the skin to put various wonderful flavours underneath—and then seasoning the outside and inside—is the best way to prepare a whole chicken. I invariably end up with crisp skin, and wonderful, well-flavoured, juicy meat. My five garlic cloves were a bit on the large side, so I had about 1/4 cup of purée to spread under the skin—but I’m a garlic lover, so this was OK with me.
I thought the chicken was great, but the avocado salad can be a bit unpredictable. Use very fresh onions, otherwise, you may be overwhelmed with onion flavor. I made the chicken one day, reheated it after I carved the bird, and then made the salad before serving, and I think this helped the chicken’s flavors mature when compared to the flavors straight from the oven. This is a great weekend dish and makes equally great leftovers for weekday lunches.
All said and done, this chicken was moist and flavorful, and the avocado salad added a bright tone to the meal. I liked that the ingredients were easy to find—for the most part, I had everything on hand. It was really easy to get the mashed garlic under the skin of the chicken, and in the end, the garlic didn’t overwhelm the dish.
Before roasting, I not only tied the legs together, but I also tucked the wing tips under the bird. I placed the chicken on a rack in my catch-all roasting pan, and that worked just fine. Next time, I’ll flip the bird about halfway through the cooking time. The accompanying avocado salad was really simple and light, pairing perfectly with the chicken. I wouldn’t change a thing.
This chicken was very moist and flavorful. The prep work and marinade were very easy. It was a simple way to roast a chicken, and yet it turned out much moister than some of the other roasted chicken recipes we’ve used. Adding avocado to dishes, or serving it alongside, can add a creamy texture, for those of us who like avocado. That being said, I don’t think that the avocado salad really went with the chicken. However, I liked eating it because I like avocado.
I think that using a good quality chicken makes a difference in a recipe like this. Even though the marinade has some strong flavors with the paprika and the cumin, the flavor of the chicken does shine through.
Originally published January 24, 2011