Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

I have a lot of kitchen gadgets- a LOT- but until recently, I didn’t have a good pair of kitchen shears. I was thrilled to be able to halve this chicken with my new shears. Just like all of the chefs on television. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used ancho chile powder instead of pasilla chile powder, used dried aji amarillo powder instead of paste, increased the amount of garlic in the marinade, and lowered the roasting temperature.

I incorporated my CSA cilantro into the incredible creamy green sauce. I served the chicken on a bed of sautéed CSA leeks and greens (collard and turnip) with roasted CSA potatoes on the side. It was a celebration of my vegetable share. 🙂 Spectacular.

Yield: 4 servings

For the Chicken:

  • 10 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste or another chile paste such as sriracha or sambal
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 of a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon aji panca paste or 1 teaspoon pasilla or ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon 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:

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 3 to 4 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup/1 ounce crumbled feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice, more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ tablespoon aji amarillo or other chile paste (I used aji amarillo powder)
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • lime wedges, for garnish
  1. 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.
  2. Add chicken halves, turning to coat them all over with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours. (I marinated the chicken for 10 hours.)
  3. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange skin-side up on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
  4. Roast until skin is golden and chicken is cooked through, tenting with foil after 30 minutes, for 35 to 45 minutes (if using chicken parts, remove the breasts after 25 to 35 minutes), or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. 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.
  6. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce and lime wedges on the side.

Note: 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.

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Sam Sifton’s Middle-School Tacos

We are counting down the days until the end of my son’s elementary school career. 😦 His 6th grade Graduation- a.k.a. “Moving Up” ceremony- is next Tuesday. So… it’s the perfect time to share this recipe for a popular Middle-School lunch! I’m getting him ready for his next chapter. ❤

The recipe for these “Middle-School ‘Gringo’ Tacos” was featured in a New York Times article titled “The Case for Hard Shell Tacos,” contributed by Sam Sifton. They were a wonderful upgrade from a taco kit. 🙂 I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, decreased the chile powder and red pepper flakes, and doubled the garlic. We topped them with grated cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, shredded iceberg lettuce, and chopped grape tomatoes. I served them with refried beans on the side as well. Great.

Of course, my kids absolutely loved them! Then they informed me that their school lunch tacos are served in soft tortillas. Funny. Maybe that’s an elementary school thing? We’ll see! 😉

Time: 30 minutes

For the Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola, peanut or grapeseed
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1-2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute hot or sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or beef broth, low-sodium if store-bought

For Serving:

  • 12-18 hard taco shells
  • refried beans, optional

Topping Suggestions:

  • grated cheese (I used both cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • sliced jalapeños
  • chopped tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • lime wedges

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, and cook until softened and starting to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so to soften, and then the ground meat. Cook until it starts to brown, stirring and chopping with a spoon to break up the meat, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off excess fat, leaving only a tablespoon or two in the pan.
  4. Add the chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cornstarch, paprika and red-pepper flakes, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the stock or broth, stir, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. As sauce cooks, place taco shells (on a taco rack, if possible) on a sheet pan, and toast in oven until they are crisp and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Serve a few tablespoons of meat in each taco, along with whatever toppings you like.
  8. Serve with refried beans on the side, if desired.

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