Saturday, February 12, 2011

Peruvian Chicken

If these two words mean anything to you, you've probably tried it - and I'd put money on the fact that you liked it.  If they mean nothing to you, I am sad and sorry.  I'll paint the picture:  rotisserie chicken that has been rubbed with a just-spicy-enough paste of seasonings and vinegar (whoop whoop).....pile of fried yucca ...mild and hot dipping sauce options, one/both of which will most certainly receive a fat dunk by each beautiful morsel of chicken and yucca "fry". 

There are a couple of joints that specialize in this delicacy in the Northern VA area.  "Edys Chicken and Steak" and "Crisp and Juicy" both sound kinda ghetto, and the facilities themselves actually sort of are.  But after experiencing the goodness inside the doors, any regard for aesthetics goes out the window.  Ryan's former workplace was close to Edys, and I knew it had to be good when I noticed one day that he had replaced our children's photo on his cell phone background with a picture of an Edy's platter.  I'm not even kidding.  Now that these establishments are no longer in our hood, Ryan has pulled out all the stops to replicate this feast at home. 

He removed the automatic-turn rotisserie from his gas grill and rigged it on his charcoal grill for a more authentic flavor.  This craziness motivation entailed manual turning every 15 minutes.  For anyone with curiosity, here's the spice rub recipe. (Ryan's tweaks: he used just 1 Tbsp paprika, and he added an extra Tbsp of  vinegar as well as a Tbsp of sugar for extra zip.)

Since we usually mix the mild and spicy sauces at the restaurants, we opted to attempt a hybrid.  This version's secret ingredient is aji amarillo paste, which necessitated a visit to a Latin market.  This fascinating adventure opened my eyes to a truly vast world of ethnic cuisine, whose surface I've hardly scratched despite my relentless culinary pursuit.  Also purchased at this market: two massive yucca roots.  If you haven't tried yucca before - and I've only had it fried with Peruvian chicken - there isn't much to say about its mild flavor.  I personally find its fried-state texture to be its most pleasing element. 

While breaking these suckers down took both time and muscle - even with a gargantuan knife, it was worth the effort to wind up with a crispy snack that even Molly loved.  Hallelujah for that alone.  The technique:  peel and cut the roots into 1/4 inch wedges, par boil for 10 minutes and then fry in super hot peanut oil.  After placing them onto a paper towel lined plate to drain, I sprinkled some salt on top and let them hang out in a 200 degree oven until the chicken's cooking and resting was complete. 
Okay, so I realize not many who read this will embark on an at-home quest for Peruvian Chicken.  My hope is that if one day you somehow find yourself standing in front of of a genuinely sketchy 'pollo' joint, you will at least consider going inside!


Kate said...

Oh man- you hit a special spot in my heart with this one! The thing that I probably miss the most is Crisp and Juicy about DC. I am so impressed you all have been able to recreate. I actually went to Martin's the other day and looked for the aji paste but couldn't find any because I was desperate for the sauce to actually do with your other roasted chicken. I wish I had the drive to make the whole dish as the Baishs do. Love you all!

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