Peruvian Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes


Serves 4

Why This Recipe Works: For a distinctive new take on the everyday roast chicken, we found inspiration in a Peruvian preparation that boasts an evenly bronzed exterior, moist meat, and robust flavor. To replicate the traditional flavor profile, we started by applying a salty, oil-based paste made with garlic, fresh mint, habanero, and a myriad of spices. We rubbed the paste both underneath the skin and on the exterior of the bird to season the chicken thoroughly from skin to bone. We then let the bird marinate for at least 6 hours to ensure that the flavors had a chance to penetrate the meat. Since we were pan-roasting the bird, we decided to seize the opportunity and make a one-pan meal by adding a side dish to the pan. Potatoes seemed like a good choice; they’re well suited to long roasting and would soak up the flavorful juices from the chicken. Since white potatoes aren’t part of the paleo diet, we decided to use earthy sweet potatoes. We found that we could sear the potatoes in the pan and then place the chicken on top of them to bake.

You can substitute 1 tablespoon of minced serrano chile for the habanero. Wear gloves when working with hot chiles. This recipe calls for a 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet; however, a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can be used instead. If the top of the chicken starts to become too dark during roasting, place a piece of foil over the breast.

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
6 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
Kosher salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced habanero chile
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, ends squared off, and sliced into 1-inch-thick rounds

1. Process mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, cumin, honey, paprika, oregano, lime zest and juice, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and habanero in blender until smooth, 10 to 20 seconds.

2. Using your fingers, gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs of chicken. Spread half of paste under skin directly on meat of breast and thighs and spread remaining paste over exterior of chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wingtips behind back. Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Toss potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and arrange, flat sides down, in single layer in skillet. Cook potatoes until browned on bottom, 6 to 10 minutes (do not flip).

4. Place chicken breast side up on top of potatoes, transfer skillet to oven, and roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours. Using potholder (skillet handle will be hot), remove skillet from oven. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve chicken and serve with potatoes and lime wedges.

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