Pollo a la brasa is Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, flavored with an special mix of seasonings that usually includes garlic, mint, cumin, aji chile pepper, and other (sometimes secret) spices. This uniquely seasoned chicken was popularized by two Swiss expatriates in Lima in the 1950's, at their restaurant La Granja Azul (which is still open today).
Though this turkey is roasted in the oven, the same intriguing spices are used to season the bird, and a layer of yellow potatoes and onions underneath soak up all the flavorful juices. Brining the turkey overnight before roasting it helps the meat stay moist and flavorful.
- 1 turkey for roasting, or turkey breast, thawed (not self-basting)
- 4 limes
- Large pot of salted water for brining turkey
- 2-3 pounds yellow or sweet potatoes
- 2 large onions
- Stuffing for turkey, if desired
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1-2 teaspoons chile powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 packet Goya seasoning (Sazon Goya) with coriander and annato (optional)
- 1 tablespoon aji panca chile pepper paste
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse turkey, removing anything from the cavities. Place turkey in a large soup pot (or even a large ziplock bag). Cover turkey with water, keeping track of how much water is needed. Add about 1 cup of salt to the pot per gallon of water used. Add the juice of three of the limes.
- Place the pot in the refrigerator and chill turkey in brine solution overnight. See this article about brining turkeys for more information.
- Prepare seasoning mixture: In a blender or food processor, mix together the garlic, mint, cumin, sugar, paprika, chile pepper, oregano, aji panca paste, sazon goya, vinegar, soy sauce, juice of 4th lime, and vegetable oil. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Peel potatoes and onions and cut into wedges. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with the potato and onion wedges. Prepare stuffing, if using.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove turkey from the brine solution and rinse turkey very thoroughly with water, inside and out, to remove excess salt. Stuff the turkey, if desired. Place the turkey in the roasting pan, on top of the layer of potatoes and onions. Baste turkey all over with 2/3 of the seasoning mixture, using fingers to rub some of the mixture under the skin. Reserve remaining seasoning mix for basting during cooking.
- Place turkey in the oven, and lower the temperature to 350, and roast turkey until it has an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees. Cooking times will vary according to the size of the turkey (see this article on temperature guidelines and cooking times by weight, as well as other tips for how to safely roast a turkey). About an hour and a half into the roasting time, baste the turkey with the remaining seasoning mixture. Cover the turkey loosely with foil if the top of the turkey is browning too much before the turkey is fully cooked. The skin should be well-browned and crispy.
- Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil, and let cool for 15-20 minutes before carving.