Pollo Navideño // Peruvian Christmas Chicken
Delicious roasted Peruvian Christmas chicken or turkey will be the star on your holiday table this year!
A large portion of Peruvians do not have an oven in their home. No where to bake desserts, roast meat or make homemade bread. For the most part, bread is bought at the local panaderia, meat is stewed instead of roasted and desserts tend to be stovetop puddings. One of the first items I bought for my apartment (way back when) was a stove. Not just any stove…a SIX burner stove. I don’t typically have six pots boiling at once, but I wanted the oven space. I wanted to know I could bake several things at once, or one large bird.
So what do people do at holiday time when they want to enjoy a roasted turkey? Again, the local panaderia! Or you local Chinese food restaurant. Or, anywhere that hangs a sign announcing that they cook turkeys and pigs for Christmas and New Years. You will see these signs begin to appear late November and stay up until just after the New Year.
How does this work? You prepare your bird at home then drop it off for roasting. You are responsible for the seasonings or marinade. No one will have a turkey baster to pour liquid over the bird every 30 minutes like my grandmother taught me to do. Essentially, you leave it up to “them” to make sure your Christmas dinner is delicious. I suppose if you “know what you are doing” you might have a delicious feast. But the opportunities I have had to eat meat that was roasted by these means was almost always dry.
I prefer to roast meat in my own oven in my own home. That is what I will do this Christmas.
The typical American Turkey is fairly simple. I used to massage oil into the skin, salt it, put some pats of butter between the skin & the meat and of course, basted like crazy with the juices that came off the turkey. Peruvian Christmas Chicken or Turkey is anything but plain and simple. The sauces include things like fruit jam or marmalade, wine or Pisco, soy sauce, cut fruit, and so on. I enjoy the differences but neither one is my “favorite.”
When planning to have almost 20 people over for a Midnight Christmas Dinner, you certainly want to be sure you have selected a delicious marinade for whatever you are planning to roast. So this week, I did a test round on a chicken! I thought I would share this version since I certainly plan to make Peruvian Christmas Chicken at times other than just Christmas. This coming Monday night, you will find a large turkey on our table but the rest of the year, this is a perfectly flavored chicken recipe to enjoy!
If you are planning to roast a turkey instead of a chicken, you will want to increase the amount of ingredients accordingly. I made this using a 5 pound chicken. For a 10 pound turkey, double the ingredients. For a 15 pound turkey, triple them – and so forth.
- 1 5-pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons aji panca paste
- 1/4 cup Demerara sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- zest from 2 key limes
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup Pisco
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 1 apple, cut into quarters
- Preheat oven to 350F. Wash chicken and pat dry. Place in a 9x13 baking dish.
- In a small bowl or medium Pyrex measuring cup, combine aji panca, sugar, garlic, lime zest, orange juice, and Pisco. Stir to combine well, until the sugar dissolves.
- Combine the salt and rosemary. Insert this mixture between the skin and meat as evenly as possible. Squeeze the lime juice into the cavity of the chicken and stuff with limes and apple quarters. Tie the legs together to keep in moisture as best you can. Pour the orange juice mixture evenly over the chicken. Bake at 350F, basting every 20-30 minutes. Once the dark meat reaches 175F on an instant thermometer (about 75 minutes), remove from oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes.
- Cut & serve!
- If you don't have access to aji panca paste, you could make a paste out of another mild dry chile pepper to substitute. Alternatively, you might try mincing 2 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce in its place.
- If you don't have Pisco, use brandy or a simple white wine.