This recipe is nearly flawless. You may not have all of the ingredients listed or may just wish to improvise a few steps. Do it your way by all means, but if you stick to this recipe, you are in for some truly Holy Pollo. As always, cooking method is probably the most flexible variable here. We usually opt for a charcoal fire with rotisserie when we have the ideal scenerio, but this is not always the case. Circumstances might leave you with nothing more than a hibachi or ...gasp...an oven. Fear not. Your pollo will amaze regardless.
In our Substitutions section, we offer some tips on how to achieve the best results from even the humble oven. In this section we also offer alternatives to other hard to come by ingredients
As for the Chicken itself, don't be tempted to buy one of those freakishly large 'oven roaster' chickens. They taste like leather and require more indirect heat. More indirect heat usually means that you are basically smoking the bird--this is a NO NO. We don't want smoked chicken, we want grilled chicken. After all, this isn't 'Smokey Pollo'. If you don't have a rotisserie, the 'beer-can' method of grilling chicken seems to work the best of all of the indirect grilling methods. Check out our section on indirect grilling and the beer-can method specifically.
After making this recipe a few times, you may want to improvise the marinade paste to 'make it your own'. Please experiment and let us know how it goes. Remember one thing: this is supposed to be a paste, so keep you liquids to a minimum.
This classic should be served with the usual suspects (huacatay/aji sauce, mayo, french fries, salad(?)). This served with a nice cold Inca Cola or your beer of choice and you and your friends will be getting your chicken 'freak-on' into the wee hours of the night.
- 1 (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pound) broiler-fryer chicken
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon huacatay (many substitues - check substitutions)
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Achiote(Annato) (substitue Paprika)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon aji (either fresh or minced fresh - check substitutions)
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1/4 cup beer (any ale will do)
- splash vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Oil for the grill
- Upright or Immersion Blender (or mortar and pestle)
- Grill with rotisserie or a grill setup for indirect grilling
- Chef's Knives
- Grill Utensils
- Spray water bottle for flare-ups
- Cutting Board
- Meat Thermometer
Classic Pollo a la Brasa
Rinse chicken well inside out, pat dry, cut off excess fat, tuck the wings
Combine the reaiming ingredients in an upright mixer (or in a bowl if using an Immersion blender)
Pulse mixture until you have a paste. If necessary, thin the mixture with water or more beer.
Taste it. Add splash of vinegar and salt accordingly.
Rub the chicken with mixture inside and out, making sure you covered all parts of the chickens. Flavoring cannot naturally penetrate chicken skin. Where ever possible, it is important to seperate the skin and apply the paste directly to the meat.
Seal them up in a large zip-top bag (or in a large bowl covered in plastic wrap) and put them in the fridge for 6 hours.
Prepare your Grill. We of course like to use wood char rather than gas, but use what you have. In our "Alternative Methods" section, we even explore Deep Fried Pollo. But for now, we'll stick to the Brasa bro. If you lack a Grill Rotisserie, you will need to setup your grill for indirect grilling*. Be careful not to 'smoke' the chicken. We are not here to smoke anything. The best Pollo a la Brasa has a slight charcoal flavor but NOT a smokey flavor.
*See tips below
Maintain the pollo and the fire. It will take in a semi-open grill about 1 hour to 1 1/4 of an hour at medium heat (180 - 200 degrees F.) on an open Grill will take a little longer and temperature must be between 200 - 240 degrees F. Chicken should be about 12 inches away from fire at least. Much of this depends on your grill and your personal experience, so feel free to experiment. If you are using a rotiserrie, you may want to have the coals closer. Remove the bird from the Grill and place on a large cutting board when it has reached an internal temperature slightly over 170 degrees*.
*See tips below
When the bird has sat for 10 minutes, quarter the bird with a butcher knife and serve with the condiments, maybe some french fries, and who knows...maybe a salad.
See our post on quatering chicken here
If you lack a grill rotisserie, the "Beer Can" method of grilling chicken works great in a pinch. For details on the Beer Can method, see our post here
Because your bird has been thoroughly tenderized, it can withstand the high internal temperature. It is necessary to reach this high internal temperature in order to achive Pollo Perfection.
If you don't have fresh Huacatay or any Huacatay at all, fret not. Run to Latin market and you will likely be in luck. If you don't have one of those either...don't worry about it. If you have a garden or grocery store near-by, you may be in business: pulverize fresh mint with corriander and a little basil.
Alternativly, if you are so inclined, grow the stuff. Its easy and grows like a weed, Check out our post on Huacatay.