Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lunch Week 10: Peruvian Chicken with Roasted Potatoes, Avocado, and Aji Verde Sauce

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Peruvian Chicken with Roasted Potatoes, Avocado, and Aji Verde Sauce
When I was researching this lunch, the chicken was the easiest thing to figure out. It's usually made with whole chicken but I just used chicken thighs. I prefer dark meat. Potatoes or some kind of starchy vegetables is usually eaten as all. I was thinking salchipapas (hot dogs with potatoes) but thought that would be overkill. So instead, I just roasted potatoes with some spices. I also needed something fresh so when I came across avocados, it was an easy choice. Lastly, to smooth out the heat in the chicken, I also made aji verde sauce which is a creamy sauce with lots of flavor.
For the chicken marinade, I blended together, mint, habanero peppers, lime zest, garlic, cumin, sugar, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper.
It becomes a really spicy sauce. Be careful with your fingers. Those habaneros can pack some heat and will burn your fingertips. I poured it over the bone-in, skin on chicken thighs and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, I roasted the marinated chicken in the oven at 375oF for about 45 minutes on a rack set in a pan. To test for doneness, use an instant thermometer and if it reads 180oF then it's FDA safe to eat.
Once the chicken was done, I roasted the potatoes at the same temperature. The spices I used were onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Again, 375oF for about 45 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
And finally, the aji verde sauce which is blended jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The result is something creamy, fresh, garlicky, yet slightly spicy from the jalapeno but not overly so.
So how did everything come out? Well, the chicken had a nice heat to it. Nothing overpowering but instead it was bright. The potatoes were just potatoes. Nothing too exciting there compared to the chicken. But the aji verde sauce really made it nice. It was also spicy but creamy and garlicky at the same time. I could just use that sauce to make potato salad for people. I still prefer mustard but this was pretty good too. The avocado was there as a cooling agent in case something was too overly spicy. But nothing was. It added more richness to the meal but honestly, it didn't need it. What this meal needed was a side salad. Something crisp and refreshing. Next time, it'll be more balanced.

Recipe below is adapted from America's Test Kitchen recipe for Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

Peruvian Roast Chicken
Makes 5 Servings

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes
1 teaspoon minced habanero chile (see note)
1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) whole chicken

1. Process all ingredients except chicken in blender until smooth paste forms, 10 to 20 seconds. Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully loosen skin over thighs and breast and remove any excess fat. Rub half of paste beneath skin of chicken. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste. Tuck wingtips underneath chicken. Place chicken in gallon-size zipper-lock bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place vertical roaster on rimmed baking sheet. Slide chicken onto vertical roaster so chicken stands upright and breast is perpendicular to bottom of pan. Roast until skin just begins to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 140 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

3. When oven is heated to 500 degrees, place 1 cup water in bottom of pan and return pan to oven. Roast until entire skin is browned and crisp and instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, about 20 minutes (replenish water as necessary to keep pan from smoking), rotating bird 180 degrees halfway through cooking.

4. Carefully remove chicken from oven and let rest, still on vertical roaster, 20 minutes. Using kitchen towel, carefully lift chicken off vertical roaster and onto platter or cutting board. Carve chicken and serve, passing Spicy Mayonnaise separately.


Recipe below is adapted from Serious Eat's recipe for Peruvian Grilled Chicken with Green Sauce

Aji Verde Sauce
Makes 5 Servings

3 whole jalapeƱo chiles, roughly chopped (see note above)
1 tablespoon aji amarillo pepper paste (see note above)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 medium cloves garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  1. I am starving always after my cycling routine! I will cook this dish for those occasions. It looks delicious and pretty healthy!

  2. The aji verde sauce is awesomeness.

    El pollo a la brasa mira muy bueno.

    No salchipapas? :P


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.