One New Med Recipe: Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

Good friends, good wine

From the moment the March/April I 2011 issue of Cook's Illustrated arrived at Oldways I have been waiting for an occasion to try this recipe.  The moment came this week when four long-time friends from early INC. magazine days came for dinner.  John Case and Bruce Posner were and are great business writers, and with their wives Quaker and Betsy, they have been kind and nurturing friends through children, magazine redesigns, happy days, deadlines, sad days, changing careers, lives and more.

The recipe below turned out as well as I'd hoped (and it turned out Bruce had been itching to try the recipe too!), but the real crowning glory of the dinner was the pleasure of being at the table together.  The friendship, old ties and funny stories mixed with the food and wine to make one foundation of the Mediterranean Diet ring true:  enjoying meals with family and friends is an essential ingredient to health and happiness.
-- Sara

FIVE NOTES:

Vertical Roaster1.  The list of ingredients and steps to follow looks long, but the recipe is actually quite easy.
2.  The recipe calls for a vertical poultry roaster (shown at right).  I took this as an opportunity to buy one ($11.95 on amazon.com), but Cook's Illustrated suggests that if you don't have one, substitute a 12-ounce can of beer.  Open the beer and pour out (or drink) about half of the liquid.  Spray the can lightly with nonstick cooking spray and proceed with the recipe.
3.  If the chicken starts looking too dark during roasting, place a square of foil over the neck and wingtips.
4.  If habanero chiles are unavailable, 1 tablespoon of minced serrano chile can be substituted. I used a serrano chile.
5. Even though Peru is nowhere near the Mediterranean, this recipe captures the spirit of the Med Diet with its emphasis on real foods, minimally processed. The principles are the same – only the herbs and spices have changed!

Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

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 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
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 - 4-pounds)

Preparation
1.  Process all ingredients except chicken in blender (I used a mini-food processor) until a smooth paste forms, 10-20 seconds.  Spread the paste all over the chicken and place in a gallon-size plastic bag and refrigerate at least six hours, and up to 24 hours.  (The recipe also called for rubbing half the paste under the skin of the chicken, but I did not do this, instead putting all the paste on the chicken and into the bag.)

2.  Put the oven rack on the lowest position and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Place vertical roaster on rimmed baking sheet and slide the chicken onto the vertical roaster, legs down, wings up.

3.  Roast until the skin begins to turn golden.  This is about 45 to 55 minutes, or when an instant-read thermometer reads 140 degrees (I did not use a thermometer).

4.  Remove the chicken and turn the oven heat up to 500 degrees F.

5.  When the oven temperature reaches 500 degrees (mine never did...the oven goes only to 450 degrees unless broiling), put 1 cup of water in the bottom of the rimmed baking pan and return the chicken to the oven.  Keep replenishing the water in the baking pan and roast the chicken until the skin is all browned, about 20 minutes, or when the instant read thermometer reads 160 in the breast.

6.  Remove from the oven, and let chicken rest for another 20 minutes (timing is approximately 50 minutes at 325 degrees, 20 minutes at 500 degrees, and 20 minutes resting for a total of about an hour and a half).   Carve after 20 minutes and serve plain or, as suggested by Cook's Illustrated, with a spicy mayonnaise.  I did make the spicy mayonnaise -- with extra virgin olive oil -- and it is so good that I suggest that you consult the Cook's Illustrated website for the recipe (signup required).  There is also an accompanying video for this recipe.

Recipes from March-April 2011 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

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