Burnished-skinned, deeply flavored and more than just a little spicy, it’s no wonder that Peruvian chicken has become something of an obsession here in the United States. There are dozens of way to make this dish, but most recipes call for two different kinds of Peruvian chile pastes — aji amarilla and aji panca — to add the necessary complexity and heat. You can find them at South American markets and online. But in a pinch, you can substitute a red chile paste (like sriracha or sambal) for the aji amarillo, and ground pasilla chile powder for the aji panca. The flavors won’t be traditional, but the chicken will still be tasty — especially when slathered with the irresistibly creamy, spicy cilantro sauce that goes alongside.
For the chicken:
- 6garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
- 3tablespoons soy sauce
- 1tablespoon aji amarillo paste or another chile paste such as sriracha or sambal
- 1tablespoon lime juice
- 1teaspoon aji panca paste or 1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
- 1teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1teaspoon ground cumin
- 1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1(3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound) chicken, halved (see Note) or 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
For the sauce:
- 1cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 3 to 4jalapeños, seeded and diced
- ¼cup/1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
- 1garlic clove, chopped
- 1 ½tablespoons lime juice, more to taste
- 2teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
- ¾teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- ½teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½tablespoon aji amarillo or other chile paste (see headnote)
- ½teaspoon honey
- ½teaspoon ground cumin
- ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- For the marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste, lime juice, aji panca paste, mustard, cumin, pepper and salt.
- Add chicken halves, turning to coat them all over with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
- Roast until skin is golden and chicken is cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes (if using chicken parts, remove the breasts after 25 to 35 minutes). Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.
- While chicken is roasting, make the sauce. In a blender, blend cilantro, jalapeños, feta, garlic, lime juice, oregano, salt, mustard, aji amarillo paste, honey, and cumin until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt or lime juice or both.
- Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce and lime wedges on the side.
- To cut a chicken in half, use a sturdy pair of poultry shears to cut lengthwise through the breastbone. Turn over and cut again, along the backbone. If desired, cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it.