This is my take on Pollo a la Brasa, the delicious spit-roasted chicken made popular by so many Peruvian restaurants. The chicken is first marinated in olive oil, lime juice, garlic and spices, and then oven-roasted until tender, juicy and crisp-skinned. The accompanying green sauce, which gets it's color from cilantro and jalapeño peppers, is spicy, creamy and downright addictive. You can put it on virtually everything, and it even makes a fabulous dip or salad dressing.
Before we get to the recipe, a few words on buying a whole chicken. In the poultry department, you're likely to find birds labeled "broilers," "roasters" and "fryers." These labels are based on the weight of the bird, and are meant to suggest a method of cooking. This recipe calls for a four pound chicken, which is typically considered a "fryer." This might seem strange since we're roasting but don't worry about it -- all of these chickens can be used in recipes interchangeably.
Begin by making the marinade. Combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a blender or mini food processor.
Blend until smooth.
Using your fingers or a wooden spoon, loosen the skin over the breasts and legs of the chicken.
Spoon 2/3 of the marinade under the skin.
And rub the rest over top. Place the chicken in a bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and set the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. I like to tuck the wings underneath the bird and tie the legs together so the bird hold its shape.
Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden, and then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and roast for about an hour and ten minutes more. Let the chicken rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes before carving.
While the chicken marinates, make the green sauce (recipe adapted from the Serious Eats Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt).
Simply combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.
And process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. It will seem thin at first but, don't worry, it will thicken up as it sits.
Keep in mind that the heat in the sauce comes from the ribs and seeds in the jalapeño peppers. I use about half of the seeds and ribs for a medium-hot sauce. If you're worried about the heat, you can always leave them out at first and then blend them in to taste. (Also, be sure to wash your hands well after handling hot peppers, and do not touch your eyes while working with them.)
Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish the sauce with a sprig cilantro, if desired, and serve with the roasted chicken.