When buying local farm-raised chicken, the only option, usually, is to get a whole frozen bird and thaw before cooking. If we want chicken pieces, we tell ourselves “Suck it up, Buttercup… cut a whole bird.” We can and do… but on busy days, all those convenient and glamorous chicken cuts at the supermarket taunt us with their readiness.
HOWEVER… GourmAvian Farms sells packs of heritage breed chicken pieces at the Coventry WinterFresh Farmers’ Market, including the ultra-fresh leg quarters that Engine Room uses for the fried chicken that made us swoon.
We spied some lovely small onions and diminutive Peruvian Purple Potatoes at the Wayne’s Organic Garden table. Peru is the home of the potato and there are thousands of varieties there. Wayne’s little potatoes were a rare and delicious find here in Connectucut!
A slow-roasting technique results in tender chicken with a crispy skin. Free-range meat is lean, and that means that slower cooking times yield better results.
This recipe can be prepared in two stages, if you’d like: the slow roasting when you have plenty of time and want your house to smell incredible. After that, the pan can be covered and go to the fridge for a day or two. When it’s time to enjoy it, just uncover and do the final, higher temperature roasting for 20 minutes.
Peruvian Chicken with Slow Roasted Onions and Purple Potatoes
2-3 lbs free-range chicken leg quarters, thawed
About a quart of small onions
About a pint of small, Peruvian purple potatoes, or fingerlings
3 T good olive oil
1 T honey
2 T alderwood smoked salt or kosher salt
1 T ground black pepper (smoked black pepper is even better)
6 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp hot pepper powder (like cayenne or Peri Peri)
2 tsp dried crushed oregano
2 tsp finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes
A little good olive oil
Smoked salt and pepper
One lime, juiced
A handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt to taste
1. Peel onions and trim tops and root ends. Scrub potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces as needed. Put both into a bowl.
2. Mix olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, garlic, spices, zest and lime juice into a paste and rub all over chicken pieces and under the skin.
3. Place chicken on top of the vegetables in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in the refrigerator 6-24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 325F
5. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper and place the chicken pieces on top, skin side down.
6. Toss the vegetables with whatever marinade remains in the bowl and some olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat. Add them to the baking pan also… the pan should be large enough the chicken pieces and vegetables are in a single layer.
7. Cover with foil and bake at 325F for an hour.
8. Uncover, flip chicken pieces to skin side up and turn vegetables a bit, cover with foil again and bake for another hour.
9. Test vegetables for tenderness, if they are not done yet, remove chicken pieces to a plate and continue to roast the veg until tender. (If you want to complete cooking at a later time, stop here, cover, and refrigerate.)
10. Increase the oven temperature to 425F, remove the aluminum foil (put chicken back, skin side up if you had removed it) and roast until the skin is nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes (a little longer if roasting from the fridge).
11. Finish the dish right before serving by sprinkling with the juice of one lime, some sea salt, and chopped cilantro. This final step really makes it!
Beer is the most popular alcoholic brew in Peru… so beer it was! We served this with Willimantic Brewing Company’s Carrier’s Credo Cream Ale, currently on tap and available to take home from the brewery in growlers. Also a good pairing from Willibrew would be their Certified Gold, which is always available, or their Simply Citra Pale Ale.