Peruvian Roast Chicken with Cilantro Dressing

This is my take on the mouth watering and totally addicting Pollo a la Brasa, a dish that's popular in Peruvian restaurants.

There are three things that make this dish outstanding:

  1. The marinade AND letting the chicken hang out in it for at least 6 hours.
  2. The cilantro dressing (even better when you make it a day ahead!)
  3. Spatchcocking -- it's hard to say, but really easy to do! (and cuts down on cooking time which is always a win!

Print Grocery List Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • For the chicken:
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 (4-4 1/2-pound) whole chicken, spatchcocked (ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken. you can also use your favorite cut of chicken -- thighs, breasts and legs would all work as long as they are bone-in, skin-on)
  • For the cilantro sauce:
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves (you can also use parsley)
  • 1–2 medium jalapeños, coarsely chopped, pith and seeds removed (if you're not a fan of spice, use 1/2 or 1 jalapeño)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • For the salad:
  • 1 English hothouse or 2 Persian cucumbers, cubed (you can also use 2 yellow or 2 green squash, or a combo of both)
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado, cubed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, coarsely chopped, plus more for serving (you can substitute parsley)



Roast the chicken:


Arrange rack in middle of oven; preheat to 400°F.


In a small bowl, mix garlic, cumin, oil, paprika, pepper, oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, and finely grated zest from 1 lemon in a medium bowl.


Squeeze 1/2 of one of the lemons and add the juice to the rub, it should be 2 tablespoons. If you're short, squeeze the other half to get 2 tablespoons.


Quarter the remaining lemon, set aside the quarters.


Place chicken breast side down on work surface. Spatchcock chicken by cutting along both sides of backbone with kitchen shears. Remove backbone; reserve for stock. Turn chicken breast side up and splay open. Press down on breastbone with palms until you hear it crack and get the chicken as flat as possible.


Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub chicken all over with 2 reserved lemon quarters. Squeeze juice over bird.


Transfer chicken to rimmed baking sheet.


From both edges of cavity, gently loosen skin from breasts and thighs. Be careful not to tear skin. With your fingers, gently spread 2 heaping Tbsp. spice mixture under skin (reserve remaining spice mixture), then season chicken all over with remaining 1 tsp. salt.


FOR MAGICAL FLAVOR: Place the chicken in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. But if you REALLY want ALL the flavor, let it marinate all night.


Roast chicken 20 minutes, then brush with spice mixture and pan juices. Continue roasting, basting with spice mixture and pan juices every 20 minutes, until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a fork or an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165ºF, 50-60 minutes total.


Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes, reserving pan juices.


Make the green sauce:


Add all the ingredients, except the mayo to a blender.


Purée for a couple of minutes.


Add mayonnaise and continue to purée until well blended and is the consistency you like.


Taste! Add more citrus if you want, or more mayo if it's too spicy.


Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and chill until ready to use.


Make the salad:


Gently toss cucumbers (or squash), avocado, scallions, lime juice, oil, salt, and 1/2 cup cilantro in a large bowl. Sprinkle with more cilantro.


Carve chicken and transfer to a platter; baste with reserved pan juices. Serve with green sauce and salad alongside.


Make ahead


Green sauce can be made 2-3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

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