I decided to make this recipe from the March 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated because I happen to have a vertical poultry roaster. It was a gift, and I had used it once before, with middling results. If you don’t have one, you can use a half-empty can of beer (yes, this is also how you make that famous barbecue dish known as beer-can chicken).

But there is no barbecue here at the apartment, so I am on the hunt for good oven-roasted chicken recipes. Boy, have I ever found one. This chicken is incredible. It has great flavour and the meat is tender and juicy, with crisp skin. The trick – aside from the vertical roaster – is marinating the chicken in a flavourful paste and then roasting it at two temperatures.

First, make the paste, spread it under the skin and all over the chicken, and marinate for several hours. Then put the chicken on the vertical roaster. Cook at 325 degrees for about an hour.

Marinate chicken in flavourful paste and place on vertical roaster

It looks like this when it comes out of the oven the first time.

Chicken after an hour at 325 degrees

Then crank up the oven to 500 degrees. When the oven is ready, put the chicken back in, making sure to add water to the pan under the roaster to prevent smoking. You will still get some smoke, but the finished product is worth it.

Finishing the chicken in a 500-degree oven crisps the skin

I have included the recipe for the spicy mayonnaise, but I didn’t go to all that work. I simply combined Hellman’s mayo with onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, mustard and pickled jalapeno and it was fine. To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, be sure your dried spices are 100-per-cent pure and use fresh lime juice.

Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime


This recipe calls for a vertical poultry roaster. If you don’t have one, substitute a 12-ounce can of beer. Open the beer and pour out (or drink) about half of the liquid. Spray the can lightly with nonstick cooking spray and proceed with the recipe. If the top of the chicken is becoming too dark during the second roasting, place a 7-inch-square piece of foil over the neck and wingtips. If habanero chiles are unavailable, 1 tablespoon of minced serrano chile can be substituted. Wear gloves when working with hot chiles.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 medium garlic cloves , peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes

1 teaspoon minced habanero chile (see note)

1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) whole chicken


Process all ingredients except chicken in blender until smooth paste forms, 10 to 20 seconds. Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully loosen skin over thighs and breast and remove any excess fat. Rub half of paste beneath skin of chicken. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste. Tuck wingtips underneath chicken. Place chicken in gallon-size zipper-lock bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Place vertical roaster on rimmed baking sheet. Slide chicken onto vertical roaster so chicken stands upright and breast is perpendicular to bottom of pan. Roast until skin just begins to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 140 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

When oven is heated to 500 degrees, place 1 cup water in bottom of pan and return pan to oven. Roast until entire skin is browned and crisp and instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, about 20 minutes (replenish water as necessary to keep pan from smoking), rotating bird 180 degrees halfway through cooking.

Carefully remove chicken from oven and let rest, still on vertical roaster, 20 minutes. Using kitchen towel, carefully lift chicken off vertical roaster and onto platter or cutting board. Carve chicken and serve, passing Spicy Mayonnaise separately.

Spicy Mayonnaise

If you have concerns about consuming raw eggs, 1/4 cup of an egg substitute can be used in place of the egg.


1 large egg (see note)

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon canned pickled jalapeño pepper, minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup vegetable oil


Process all ingredients except oil in food processor until finely chopped, about 5 seconds. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil in steady stream until mayonnaise-like consistency is reached, scraping down bowl as necessary.

From the March 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated