Thu Jan 24, 2019
I'm lucky to have a really great and prolific Peruvian chicken spot in my neighborhood. The joint is called Alpaca (when I first moved to town it was still Mama Nora's) and their chicken is seasoned perfectly, then roasted using charcoal so it gets a nice smoky touch, and finally they let you get as much aji verde as you desire, and I can never get enough of the amazingly spicy and flavorful sauce. Since it's so easy for me to get awesome Peruvian chicken, I never even think of making it home, but when planning out Wing Month, I thought Peruvian wings would make a grand addition to the line-up and decided to try out a recipe. It would have been hard to go wrong here, so it was no surprise that these ended up being wings I highly suggest you give a whirl out at home too.
I love the tangy and earthy flavor of Peruvian chicken, but when we get down to it, I'm really in the game for the sauce—Peruvian aji verde is bright, tangy, creamy, spicy, and totally addictive. I had never tried to make it at home before, and I kind of liked that its contents were a mystery to me, but if I was going to be serving Peruvian chicken, making that sauce was a must. So I turned to my trusted source of Kenji at Serious Eats for a recipe, and ended up using his entire Peruvian chicken method since commenters noted it was spot one. Whipping up a batch of the aji ended up being quick and easy—all I had to do was toss in jalapeños, aji amarilla, cilantro, garlic, mayo, sour cream, and lime juice into a food processor and take it for a spin until smooth, then drizzle in olive oil with the motor running. The sauce was a little thin when done, but it thickened up nicely after some time in the fridge.
While I kept the ingredients from Kenji's recipe the same, I changed up the process just a bit. If you're loyal Meatwave reader, you know I like my chicken wing skin as crunchy as can be, and the method I use to do that is to coat the wings in baking powder and then let them air dry overnight before grilling. So I decided to stick with that here before applying the Peruvian seasoning, which was going to introduce some extra moisture to the chicken.
My thought process was, if the skin is really dry and embedded with baking powder, maybe that addition of extra liquid just prior to grilling wouldn't result in a flabby exterior. So I set my baking powder coated wings on a wire rack nestled in a baking sheet and let them air dry in the fridge overnight.
Then, when it was time to grill, I made the seasoning that ended up being more of a paste. It brought together cumin, paprika, oil, vinegar, garlic, and pepper.
I applied this mixture to the chicken just before I transferred the wings to the grill. My hope was that the minimal time the chicken spent with a web rub applied would translate to the least negative effects on getting an ideal, crackling skin.
I usually like to post my chicken-on-the-grill photo after the wings are done cooking and are well browned and delicious looking, but I forgot to get that shot this time around. So this is what the chicken looked like when I moved it from bowl to grill, then covered, and waited 45 minutes for it to cook.
Unfortunately, my theories on getting the most ideal skin while still using a wet rub didn't totally pan out, but that was of little consequence in the end. I wanted the thin, textured, and ultra crisp skin I like, but the exterior was only moderately crispy, although crunchier than a normal Peruvian chicken skin. So there was some success there, but the important thing was these just tasted like really great Peruvian chicken. The wings themselves were well seasoned with a familiar earthy and tangy flavor that was completed when the chicken was dunked in the aji verde, adding a great kick of heat, along with a freshness, that added the perfect contrast to the flavor of the wings. I watched the wings fly off the plate, then was happy to see some sauce still remaining, because this stuff is so good that I always find a lot of uses for the leftovers.
Peruvian Chicken Wings
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 8 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 45 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 9 Hours
- 4-6 servings
- For the Dipping Sauce
- 3 whole jalapeño chilies, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon ají amarillo pepper paste
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Wings
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- For the Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tablespoons finely minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To make the dipping sauce: Place jalapeños, ají amarillo, cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, and vinegar in the workbowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down side of bowl as necessary. With processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer sauce to an airtight container and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the wings: In a small bowl, mix together baking powder and salt. Place wings in a large bowl, pat dry with paper towels, and sprinkle in baking powder mixture. Toss until wings are evenly coated. Arrange wings in a single layer on wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, leaving a little space between each wing. Place baking sheet with wings in refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight.
- To make the seasoning: Place cumin, paprika, vinegar, oil, garlic, and black pepper in a small bowl and work into a paste using a whisk or your fingers. Transfer chicken to a large bowl, add in seasoning mixture, and toss to evenly distribute seasoning on wings.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and and browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer wings to a platter and serve immediately with dipping sauce.