Pollo a la brasa / charcoal-roasted chicken

This was the first Peruvian dish I ever made… so it’s only fitting that it should be my first recipe post! We received a George Foreman rotisserie as a wedding present, and I used that thing until it fell apart. We found a brand new one on Craigslist last year, and we still use it today.

This dish is not an old Peruvian classic; in fact, it was created by Swiss hotelier Roger Schuler in Peru in the 1950s. It’s become a perennial favorite; and today, you will find this dish anywhere that Peruvian food is served. In fact, many Peruvian restaurants feature this dish – or serve it exclusively – and have huge charcoal-fired spits called rotombos to roast dozens of chickens at a time!

I’ll say right off that my version is not roasted in a rotumbo, and thus cannot have the same distinctive charcoal flavor. So it’s not 100% authentic. But it was developed based on my husband’s taste memory: Eduardo would taste each attempt, and say, “Close, but more cumin!” “Almost, but more salt!” – until he finally exclaimed, “That’s it!”

Pollo a la brasa can be made in the oven or rotisserie; I’ve included directions for each. But the only way to truly achieve the authentic flavor is by roasting it over charcoal.

 

Pollo a la brasa / charcoal-roasted chicken
Pollo a la brasa / Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 1/2 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
1-1 1/2 hours 2-3 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 1/2 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
1-1 1/2 hours 2-3 hours
Pollo a la brasa / charcoal-roasted chicken
Pollo a la brasa / Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 1/2 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
1-1 1/2 hours 2-3 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 1/2 hour
Cook Time Passive Time
1-1 1/2 hours 2-3 hours
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 12 oz. lager beer
  • 12 oz. water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. ají amarillo paste
  • 1 packet Goya Sazon seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin
Rub
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Goya Sazon seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. Goya Adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
Servings:
Instructions
Marinade:
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit chicken.
  2. Place chicken in bowl. Use a cover that will weigh down the chicken enough to submerge in marinade; otherwise, flip the chicken halfway through (if possible). Marinate the chicken 2-3 hours. One hour before cooking, remove chicken from liquid and pat skin dry. Place on rack, and allow to completely air-dry.
Rub:
  1. Sprinkle salt and white pepper inside chicken cavity. Rub skin with lime. Combine the rub ingredients. When the chicken is dry, truss it. Place on rotisserie skewer or roasting pan rack. Pat rub onto entire skin surface.
Roasting:
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F, or prepare rotisserie. Roast for 20 minutes per pound (160° F. internal temperature, where leg meets the body). If using oven, turn oven down to 350° F. after 15 minutes. Remove from oven / rotisserie; place on plate and rest for 15-20 minutes. Quarter chicken, and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes
  • Serve with fresh yellow potato French fries and trio of dipping sauces (traditionally, huacatay sauce, ají amarillo sauce, and fresh mayonnaise or aioli).
  • Use a lager beer – and make sure it’s good beer. I follow this rule of thumb: if I don’t want to drink it, I won’t put it in my food!
  • If using a rotisserie, make sure the chicken fits without hitting the element. You may find it useful to cut off the wing tips, so they don’t strike the element while the chicken rotates. (Tucking them really doesn’t work.)
  • The best way to mimic the rotombo flavor would be to use a charcoal grill fitted with a rotisserie (positioned several inches above the flame; the chicken should have a charcoal flavor, but not be charred. Try making it in a charcoal smoker (like the Weber Smoky Mountain “Bullet”) fitted with a rotisserie attachment, for a truly authentic flavor.
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