It’s safe to assume you, dear reader, have more free time on your hands than usual right now. It’s also safe to assume that you’re having to cook at home more than you’re used to or probably even want to. Maybe you’re new to the kitchen and need some recipe guidance. Maybe you’ve exhausted the things you know how to make and are, in turn, exhausted of them.
Well, I’m here to help.
I’m going to use this column to introduce you to recipes applicable to all skill levels in order to help you change things up in the kitchen. We’ll keep it easy and largely idiot-proof... hopefully.
First, one thing you should keep in mind, and that helped me out a lot as I started cooking more regularly for myself and others, is that recipes are guidelines and not necessarily hard and fast instructions. I don’t know what’s happening in your kitchen. If something is overcooking, take it off heat. If it needs more time, keep it in cooking longer than I say. If you love an ingredient, add more of it and vice versa. Relax and try and enjoy yourself.
Secondly, it definitely helps my cooking, especially when quarantined, to put on some music and make a drink before getting started. You want your food to taste like you were in a good mood when it was prepared. I promise, it makes a difference - no rage cooking here, no matter how badly you lost to Chau in Smash Brothers.
I’ve found that this recipe pairs really nicely with an upbeat, 90s country mix. A little George Strait never hurt anyone.
Ok, so without further ado, today we’re going to be cooking the Peruvian, roast chicken classic Pollo a la Brasa. It’s also an incredibly easy recipe to double if you’re cooking for more people.
(If you’ve been to Latin America or are from there and get huffy at me for what follows... this is my disclaimer that this version kind of cheats and uses ingredients easy to find at your local grocery store, whereas the authentic version of this dish uses several specialty ingredients that are trickier to track down. We’re going for simplicity in quarantine.)
You will need a blender and ideally a pan with a roasting rack.
For the chicken, you will need:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 4 large garlic cloves
- I tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- And of course, one 3-4lb whole chicken. I promise, even if you’ve never cooked a whole chicken before, you can do this.
For the delicious, wonderful green sauce*, you will need:
- 3 jalepeños
- 1 cup packed, fresh cilantro
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1⁄2 cup mayo
- 1⁄4 cup sour cream
- juice of one lime
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
- a smattering of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
* a quick note on this... if you would like your sauce mild, cut your peppers in half lengthwise and remove the veins and seeds. The more of that you leave in, the hotter it gets. I leave 2⁄3 of the peppers with the veins and seeds in for a medium-ish hot sauce. If you have a high spice tolerance and enjoy lighting your unsuspecting friends and loved ones on fire as much as I do, throw a serrano or two in there as well.
Ok, lets cook a dadgum chicken. You will see from my photos, that I doubled this recipe as I was cooking for several people, pre-world-going-to-hell.
Ideally, you’re making this marinade and getting it on the chicken several hours or even a day in advance.
First, take every ingredient from the chicken section, except for the actual chicken, and chuck it all in a blender.
Blend away. And now you have a marinade! See how easy that was?
Now, it’s time to get personal with your chicken. Place it in a bowl, breast side down, and using a combination of a spoon and your fingers, rub a couple small spoon fulls of the marinade onto its backside. Now, flip the chicken over with the legs facing you. Work about 2⁄3 of the remaining marinade under the skin using the spoon and your fingers and do your best to spread it around. Rub the remaining marinade all over the remaining parts of the chicken you can see.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in your fridge to get delicious, hopefully a day in advance.
Please don’t forget to wash your hands at this step and wipe down your dang kitchen.
When it comes time to cook the chicken, remove it from the fridge, place it on a roasting rack, and preheat your oven to 425.
Because I’m fancy and “extra,” I used some butcher twine to truss my chickens. They cook prettier, carve easier, and this extra step will definitely impress anyone you’re cooking for. First, avail yourself of some butcher twine, and for a quick and easy video tutorial on how to do this, click here.
Place the chicken on the roasting pan on the middle rack of your oven, and roast at 425 for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375, and cook for about 70 minutes longer.
Meanwhile! It’s green sauce time.
Throw literally every ingredient on that list into the blender, blend it until it’s smooth, and then taste it. Is it delicious? Awesome - cover it and put it in the fridge to thicken while the chicken cooks. Is it still lacking something? Add whatever your heart desires to the blender and blend again.
I would also advise you to serve this chicken with some yellow rice and black beans. This would be an excellent time to get the rice going. Follow the instructions on the package.
Once time is up, remove your bird from the oven, and hopefully it looks nice and pretty and something like this
Trussed chickens are sexy.
Tilt the bird to get the juices into the pan before moving it to a cutting board, and then let them rest about 15-20 minutes before carving with a freshly sharpened knife.
Service it with green sauce on top and some yellow rice and black beans on the side.
See how easy that was? And now you’ve got a nice change up meal during quarantine that is largely hard to mess up. Also, that green sauce is good on steak, and well, almost everything.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you end up making this recipe, please show us a photo or tweet it to me @joshbrundage.
Otherwise, I’m taking recipe requests :)