We continue our review of local restaurants in the tri-state Metro DC area (if you’re not local, that’s Northern Virginia, District of Columbia, and Southern Maryland) to focus on an entire type of cuisine that we eat at least once a month: Peruvian Chicken! But do not fret – if you aren’t local, we’re sharing our recipe from Real Life Paleo so you can recreate this awesome fest at home!
But, have you ever had genuine pollo a la brasa?
Style: Fast Casual (Fast casual restaurants prepare food quickly, but to order. Wait time usually 5-10 minutes)
Price: Around $15 for a whole chicken plus sides
Where: All over the DC area and the US
Why is it special?
There are only a few types of restaurants you will find where the main dish is already completely gluten-free. Peruvian chicken is one of them (with some rare exceptions who don’t make their own seasoning blend – just ask). The main seller at these restaurants is a rotisserie charcoal grilled chicken slow roasting for hours until the skin is crispy, but the meat is still juicy. Because they are rubbed in only a few spices, the chicken is naturally gluten-free in almost all cases. Throw in our favorite fried starch, yuca fries, and some fried plantains and you have a perfectly paleo meal for very cheap!
Peruvian chicken restaurants, also known as pollo a la brasa, are so ubiquitous in this area that we can’t remember a time when they weren’t in our lives. There was one in Ballston where Stacy used to work, her first experience was at one of the most famous in the area Super Chicken.
We know there’s at least one in almost every local city in the tri-state area, especially around Annandale – but our absolute favorite is the one right by our house, Chicken Palace. They actually use natural non-chemical charcoal, don’t put anything else in the fryer (important for contamination if you’re gluten sensitive), and their sauces are our favorite. Perhaps because we’ve been eating there at least once a month for years… it’s kind of how we all define what Peruvian Chicken is to us these days. Nothing beats the flavor of authentic charcoal grilled chicken served with mayonnaise. If there’s one where you are, you ought to try in out.
While most menus will have lots to order, we go directly for the main event, the whole chickens with yuca and plantains on the side. Of course the steamed veggies and side salad are great options for greens. The rest of the menu is hit and miss in terms of paleo-ness, but maybe you’d be interested in anticuchos de corazon (beef heart) or ceviche de pescado (acid cooked fish)?
We love this chicken so much that we went ahead and perfected this juicy, tender meat with a flavorful, crispy skin for our cookbook, Real Life Paleo. You can also find all our favorite sides in the cookbook that helps you put whole meals together – for example, this chicken is traditionally prepared with plantains & fried yuca!
No seriously. You can’t have Peruvian Chicken without the yuca and a mayo-based dipping sauce. Ask anyone.
- 1 whole (4-pound) chicken
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup hard apple cider, white wine, or apple juice
- Place an oven rack in the bottom position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Pat the chicken dry, inside and out, with a paper towel.
- In a small bowl, combine the tapioca flour, salt and spices with a fork.
- Apply this rub over the skin of the chicken and on the inside of the cavity. Be sure to apply on both the breast side and the spine side.
- Pour the cider into the cup of a vertical roaster or into a clean aluminum can. Insert the cup or can into the cavity of the chicken as far as possible, and adjust so that the chicken balances. If using a pan, place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet to catch the juices.
- Roast for 75 minutes or until the skin is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. When done, the juices will run clear and the internal temperature will reach 160 degrees F.
Using a different size chicken? Just cook it until it reaches the correct internal temperature; the time will vary depending on the size of the bird.
From Real Life Paleo