Peruvian Grilled Chicken (pollo a la brasa)

When I saw this recipe, I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t sure exactly what Peruvian food entailed. Latin American, yes, but each country always has its own influence, its own specialty and its own regional cuisine. After my two weeks in Italy, I learned that even two regions in the same country are rarely alike.

So when I saw lime, cumin, paprika – I nodded my head. Sure, those all made sense. But then I saw soy sauce….huh? Apparently there are many large Japanese and Chinese communities in Peru, and hence they have influenced the cuisine. Seemed like an odd combination so I thought I would try it out.

I don’t know if it was the 24 hours in marinade, the slow cooking on the grill (you leave it on longer on the side without a burner on) or the flavorful combination of ingredients, but it is amazing! Very juicy, great taste, and a perfect, easy grilling meal. I served it with some Spanish beans and it made for an easy weeknight dinner (just don’t forget to throw it in the marinade the day before).

Thanks to Gourmet for this great keeper!

PERUVIAN GRILLED CHICKEN

Makes 2-4 servings

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), quartered (or a package of chicken thighs, like I used)
Accompaniment: lime wedges

Marinate chicken:
Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and oil in a blender.

Put chicken in a large sealable bag and add marinade. Seal bag and marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Grill chicken:
If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood). When coals are lit, dump them out along opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of coals (the size of the quartered chicken) in middle. When you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over coals for 3 to 4 seconds, coals will be medium-hot.

If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, then reduce heat to medium-high.

Discard marinade, then pat chicken dry. Oil grill rack, then grill chicken over area with no coals (or over a turned-off burner), skin side down first, covered, turning over once, until cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes (add charcoal to maintain heat).

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