Peruvian Roast Chicken

  • Two 3-pound chickens, washed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons dry adobo, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup malta (see Note)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and crushed

Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus up to a day for marinating)
Cook Time: 90 minutes

Rinse the chickens and pat them dry inside out out. Stir the adobo, pepper, oregano, and lime juice together in a small bowl. Loosen the skin over the breasts and as much of the legs as you can by working your fingers gently in between the meat and skin. Flip the chicken over and do the same to as much of the skin over the back as you can. With the aid of a teaspoon, work the adobo mixture under the skin all over the chicken and inside the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken with kitchen twine and rub any remaining marinade over the skin of the chicken.

Stir the soy sauce, malta, garlic, and ginger together in a small bowl. Divide between two gallon-size sealable plastic bags. Put one chicken in each bag and squish the liquid around so it coats the chicken evenlys. Refrigerate for no less than four hours or, preferably, overnight. Turn and squish the chickens occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Drain the chicken thoroughly. Roast the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan until the juices run clear (not pink) when you pierce the meat between the thigh and the leg, about 1 hour. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes. Cut into 4 to 8 pieces before serving.

Notes:
Malta is a malt-based non-alcoholic beverage that is found all over Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. It is purported to boost iron leveles in the blood (especially when mixed with raw eggs, as I have often seen!) You can find malta in every bodega in every borough of New York City (literally) and in any market that serves even a smallish Latin population. If you cannot find malta, beat 2 tablespoons molasses and 3 to 4 tablespoons water together and use that instead.

The traditional way to cook Peruvian chicken is a la brasa, or over an open flame, using either coal or wood as fuel and on a rotating spit. While most of us don’t even have the luxury of an electric rotisserie (late night television impulse purchase, anyone?), I found that when I tried the recipe on the rotisserie on my gas grill, and added a chunk or two of charcoal, it really brought the finished bird to another level. The version of my recipe, while not strictly a la brasa, is a tasty, juicy, easier version that is sure to become a staple in your repertoire.


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