Smoked Grilled Peruvian Chicken is bathed in a citrusy marinade and then cooked on the grill, using smoke as an ingredient. This is one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes, and many of my friends have shared it with their families. The key is to marinate the chicken in a mixture of fragrant spices and lime juice.
Have you ever tried smoking food on the grill? I don’t have a charcoal grill, but I have smoked food on my gas grill using a smoke box as well as foil packs filled with wet wood chips. Smoke generated from flavorful wood can add an extra complexity of flavor when you’re grilling, whether it’s an animal protein or vegetables.
However, smoking foods on the grill is better for smoking larger quantities of food, and you don’t have to worry about creating smoky odors in the kitchen.
The recipe for this Smoked Grilled Peruvian Chicken comes from Barton Seaver’s cookbook, Where There’s Smoke, which is all about simple, sustainable, delicious grilling.
Barton views smoke as an ingredient (each type of wood has its own unique aroma and flavor), as basic as stock or olive oil, using it to add richness and fullness to the foods he prepares. The key is to manage the smoke properly.
Although there are some health concerns when it comes to grilling, Barton does a nice job suggesting safer, healthier, and greener ways to grill, including using indirect heat and serving smaller portions of protein alongside lot of vegetables (animal protein naturally contains compounds that become carcinogenic when subjected to high heat, something that vegetables do not contain).
Typically, you might expect mostly meat lover recipes in a grilling cookbook, but Where There’s Smoke is packed with vegetable dishes, some grilled, some not, as well as a variety of protein dishes (he suggests sustainably raised). In fact, Barton makes a point to make vegetables center stage, with enticing recipes such as Charred Brussels Sprouts with Orange-Pecan Dressing, Grilled Cauliflower with Mint and Parmesan, Grilled Lacinato Kale and Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Mint Pesto.
This Smoked Grilled Peruvian Chicken is an easy dish to make, with a short list of ingredients. Serve with this Guasacaca Avocado Green Sauce if you like.
Although my gas grill has a small smoker box on the right side, I decided to use a second smoker box, both filled with cherry wood chips (you could also use foil to wrap the chips). I placed the second smoker box on the left side of the grill, and the chicken in the middle of the grill. For the first five minutes of grilling, the chicken lay over direct heat, after which I moved the chicken to the right side of the grill and shut off the burners on that side. I let the chicken finish cooking over indirect heat, yielding a moist chicken with a light smoky flavor.
I had some fun playing around with Smoky Grilled Carrots too (this recipe is also in Barton Seaver’s cookbook). I’m looking forward to experimenting more with smoke as an ingredient.
Smoked Grilled Peruvian Chicken Recipe
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons powdered chile pepper I used ancho
- 3 1/2 pounds chicken parts on the bone, with skin
In a large mixing bowl, mix together lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
Combine olive oil, cumin, paprika, and chile powder in a small saucepan; heat over medium heat until aromatic and oil begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. Add hot oil mixture to lime juice mixture. Let cool. Add chicken pieces to bowl and coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. Let the chicken come to room temperature before cooking it, about 30 minutes.
Build a medium fire in a grill and add chunks of a flavorful wood such as maple, oak or hickory. When the wood has burned down to embers, place the chicken, skin side down, directly over the coals. Cook for 2 minutes, then rotate the grill grate so the chicken is away from the fire. Cover the grill and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F when inserted along the leg about, about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a platter and serve.