Every Peruvian knows that the formula for happiness is in a plate of grilled chicken. Not without good reason, it is considered the most widely eaten dish at the national level, according to the Peruvian Poultry Association (APA).
It's a constant craving: its crunchy fries and juicy, charcoaled meat are enjoyed without fear and guilt-free. According to a report by Euromonitor International, Peruvians go to buy a rotisserie chicken approximately 37 times every year. That's more than three times a month!
In fact, chicken restaurants or stalls ('pollerías'), account for 40% of the fast food market in this country. They are regarded as the temple of flavor for Peruvians.
The original recipe
'Pollo a la brasa' is a relatively new dish. Its creation dates back to 1950, to the district of Chaclacayo. Roger Schuler, a Swiss immigrant living there, carefully observed his cook's techniques and then experimented with cooking the chicken himself.
He marinated the bird with salt only, and placed it on the coals to cook. The result was a juicy, golden meat with a crispy skin that was irresistible to the beholder. When he saw that his experiment worked, he sought to perfect his technique with the help of Franz Ulrich, with whom years later he would open a renowned chicken restaurant that is still going today.
Ulrich, a specialist in mechanical metal, designed a special furnace with rotating iron bars, where several chickens would be placed in a row. They named it 'El rotombo' (a variation of the spit-roast). Some time later, other condiments were added to its preparation, such as rosemary, salt, huacatay (Peruvian black mint), pepper, sillao, ají panca (Peruvian red pepper) and cumin.
Prepare it at home
Next, we will explain, step by step, how to prepare delicious rotisserie-style chicken in your own home.
The ingredients are: 1 whole chicken with skin, 1 tablespoon of mustard, 1.75 fl oz of sillao, a glass of lager, salt and ground black pepper.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture all over the bird. Put it in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight. The next day, place the chicken on a tray and bake it at 350° F 20 minutes. Then, turn it over and let it cook for the same amount of time. Finally, turn it over one more time and let it cook for a further 10 minutes.
While it is cooking, you can prepare the garnish. To do this you need to parboil four medium yellow potatoes, making sure they are still slightly firm so that they can be fried later. Take them out of the water, cut them into long sticks and fry them in a pan with plenty of oil until they are golden. Add salt, and they're ready.
For the salad, put julienned lettuce, a grated carrot, two sliced tomatoes and 3.5 ounces of crumbled fresh cheese in a bowl. Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and a dash of water and vinegar.
Of course, no grilled chicken dish can be enjoyed to the full unless it is accompanied by chili sauce. For homemade sauce, you need three peeled, unveined yellow peppers. Put them in a blender and add a dash of vegetable oil and a pinch of salt. Blend the ingredients and you're ready to go!
- In 2004, the Ministry of Culture awarded this dish the National Cultural Heritage accolade.
- Every third Sunday in July is Pollo a la Brasa Day.
Sources: Viú! / Publimetro/ La República/ Gestión