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 yet another example of the inclusiveness of Peruvian cuisine. It is 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. 


Roasting chicken, rinsed          One 3 ½ to 4 ½ pound, whole
Pollo a la Brasa marinade        (below)
Pollo a la Brasa spice rub         (below)
Marinade:Bottle of lager beer                   One 12-ounce bottle
Water                                           12 ounces (fill beer bottle)
Chicken stock                             2 cups
Sazon seasoning                        1 packet (with coriander and annato)
Lime juice                                   juice of one whole
Black pepper                              ½ tsp.
Ground cumin                           2 Tbsp.


Fresh lime                                 juice of one half
Sazon                                         1 packet (coriander & annato)
Black pepper                            1 tsp.
Goya Adobo                             1 Tbsp.  (with cumin)
Ground cumin                        1 Tbsp.


For 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 thechicken halfway through (if possible).
  3. Marinate the chicken overnight in marinade. (For a less pronounced flavor, marinate for 2-4 hours only.)
  4. One hour before cooking, remove chicken from liquid and pat skin completely dry (inside cavity as well). Place on rack, and allow to completely air-dry.

For roasting:

  1. Salt and white pepper inside cavity of chicken. Rub all skin surfaces with lime.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° F, or prepare rotisserie.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the rub ingredients.
  4. When the chicken is dry, truss it; place on rotisserie skewer or roasting pan rack.
  5. Pat rub onto entire skin surface.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes per pound (160° F. internal temperature, where leg meets the body).
  7. If using oven, turn oven down to 350° F. after 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven / rotisserie; place on plate and rest for 20 minutes.
  9. Quarter chicken, or cut as desired.


  • Serve with fresh yellow potato French fries and trio of dipping sauces (traditionally, chimichurri, aji amarillo mayonnaise, and fresh mayonnaise / aioli).
  • Use a lager beer (as opposed to an amber or dark 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”), if you’re lucky enough to have access to one. 


Copyright © http://www.lavidacomida.com.
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

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Filed under Culture, Latin American Cuisine, Peru, Peruvian Cuisine

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