Thursday 25 June 2015

Peruvian Baked Chicken with Herb Fries + Caramelized Veggies.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

What's for Iftar tonight?

It seems that this is what we all ask each other during Ramadan. Over at the cousins, they're having kebab sandwiches and aubergine curry. The other ones are eating leftover lasagne with sweet potato fries and chipotle chilli roast salmon. And, for the other other one, it's rosemary flavoured cod and steamed spinach with feta along with more sweet potato. Today, for us, it's leftover pulaoroast chicken and mango milkshake. That's right, people. The first batch of alphonso mangoes landed in the kitchen this morning at £15.00 per box, may I add (!!!!). We will probably eat most of them as they are but a few will go into the best milkshake ever along with vanilla ice cream, milk, a little sugar and ice.

Side note: I find it really funny when I write these openings. For you guys, each paragraph is separated by the current dish of discussion. But me? I wrote the above paragraph 5 minutes ago then got distracted by this. I tell you, this internet is a dangerous place. Time to focus.
So, we're here to discuss Peruvian chicken. This dish came about on the first Tuesday in June, when the age-old question was asked in the morning: what shall we cook for dinner tonight? Randomly, I remembered this Peruvian chicken that I had posted last year and decided that I wanted it or something similar.

Since I was on Pinterest (go follow me - I pin anything and everything), I decided to search "Peruvian chicken" and this recipe came up. Instead of grilling, I felt like (and the weather called for) baking it. To serve with it, inspired by this recipe for fries, I made herb ones from scratch (so easy). And, in ode of the original recipe, a simple stir-fry of caramelized red onion and peppers. 
Yes people, that is how I figure out what to cook for dinner each night.

I prepped everything in the afternoon. Chicken breasts were slit and soaked in the smoky, spicy citrus marinade. The potatoes were cut into fries (you could use oven fries but try fresh potatoes - it's easier than you think) and tossed in olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme. The peppers and onions were sliced, ready to cook later on.
I baked both the chicken and fries on the same tray (to save on washing up). The chicken baked in its wonderful marinade and the potatoes ended up soaking all the juices resulting in smoky, herb fries (for crispy fries, bake on separate trays).
And, the veggies. They were the unexpected stars of this show. The peppers were sweet, with a little jalapeno heat and the red onion turned all jammy and caramelized, seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar and crushed red chilli. Let me show you how we made it!

Peruvian, previously: Peruvian chicken stir-fry with oven fries
Fries, previously: roasted sweet potato fries
Stir-Fried Veg, previously: stir-fried Thai vegetables

A Simple List of Ingredients:

For the Peruvian Baked Chicken:
1. Sugar
2. Salt
3. White Wine Vinegar
4. Lime Juice
5. Garlic
6. Olive Oil
7. Ground Cumin
8. Sweet Smoked Paprika
9. Smoked Chipotle Chilli Powder
10. Chicken Breasts

For the Herb Fries:
1. Potatoes
2. Salt and Pepper
3. Fresh Thyme
4. Fresh Rosemary
5. Garlic 
6. Olive Oil

For the Caramelized Veggies:
1. Red Bell Pepper
2. Red Onion
3. Soy Sauce
4. Crushed Red Chilli Flakes
5. Vinegar
6. Jalapeno
7. Olive Oil

Bismillah, let's begin!

We'll start with the chicken as we need to make a marinade, slit the chicken, let it marinade and then bake it in the oven.

First, take sugar, white wine vinegar, salt and a lime.

Into a small jug, place:
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Salt

Pour in 1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar.

Then, slice the lime in half.

Add the juice of 1 Lime to the jug.

Give it a good mix and set aside.

Next, take ground cumin, sweet smoked paprika, smoked chipotle chilli powder and olive oil.

Oh, and garlic. 

We'll begin with 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled. Thinly slice them.

Then, finely chop them.

And, chuck them into a small bowl.

Into said bowl, goes 1 teaspoon Olive Oil.

Along with 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin.

And, 1 teaspoon Sweet Smoked Paprika. I got mine from here but the normal smoked one would be fine too. And, if you can't get hold of either, make do with paprika.

Finally, add 1 teaspoon Smoked Chipotle Chilli Powder which I got here. If you cannot get it, any chipotle thing will do otherwise make do with normal crushed red chilli flakes. So many options, my friends.

Grab a spoon and give the whole thing a good stir.

Heat the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds until aromatic and the oil begins to bubble.

Take both your sauce things.

Add one to the other and stir. Let it cool for 5 minutes.

In this time, prep your chicken. I used 2 Large Chicken Breasts with a total weight of 1 pound 10 ounces.
Slit the breasts through the flesh but not all the way through. Don't skip the slitting - it helps the flavour absorb into the meat and after baking, makes slicing a breeze. Do it!

Once the marinade has cooled and the chicken been slit ...

... pour it over.

And, give it a good old mix.

Am I just weird but doesn't that look pretty? Well, apart from the whole raw chicken thing.
Anyhoo, cover the bowl and leave to marinade for a few hours (I did 3) or overnight.

Meanwhile, let's prep the herb fries. You could make these with any herbs, fresh or dry, that you like.

I went with fresh rosemary and thyme because that's what we have growing in the garden. 
Also, I made these with fresh potatoes but you could use frozen oven fries. Simply put them, frozen, into a bowl and toss with the rest of the ingredients and bake according to packet instructions.

So, here's how I made mine. I peeled 3 medium Potatoes and cut them into fries.

In went, Salt and Pepper, to taste. I did about 1/2 teaspoon each.

Next, the herbs. Use dry herbs if you want but with fresh, in goes, 2 small Thyme sprigs, leaves only and 1 medium Rosemary sprig, leaves only and finely chopped.

Then, 1 Garlic Clove, peeled and finely chopped.

Finally, olive oil.

Add enough to coat the fries and help everything stick to them. Give them a good toss.

When it's time to bake, pre-heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6. Take a large baking tray and line it with foil - makes for easy clean up afterwards.
Now, I baked both my chicken and fries on one tray because I hate washing up. But, if you want crispy herb fries, bake them separately on a foil-lined tray, in a single layer, at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes until cooked, golden and crisp.

I baked mine together. And, I only baked one chicken breast and left the second for the next day (which I'll show at the end). 
So, onto the tray goes the chicken and the fries - bake at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes until cooked through. Turn the chicken once halfway through cooking and keep an eye on the fries, they may be done sooner.
Also, smaller chicken breast will take less time so adjust accordingly. And, because the chicken is in a marinade, it will release its juices when baking, making the fries juicy and slightly soggy (which I love) so if you want them crispy, bake separately as I told you above.
Whew! So many options once again. 

Whilst the chicken and fries bake, onto the caramelized veggies. These were so good - I'm still dreaming of those red onions seasoned with soy sauce. Yum.

Into a pan, over a medium heat, goes 1 tablespoon Olive Oil.

Peel and finely slice 1 Red Onion. I'm still petitioning for them to be re-named purple onions. Because, hello? Look at their colour.

Also, slice up 1 Red Bell Pepper. I say, red because it's my favourite but use whichever pepper you have in the fridge.

And, for a little heat, slice up 1 Jalapeno Chilli.

Once the oil is hot, add the red onion.

And, both peppers.
Stir-fry over a low heat until soft and beginning to caramelize. To speed up this process, cover the pan with a lid and leave on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Then, in a small bowl, place 1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Chilli Flakes.

Along with:
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Vinegar (Apple Cider Vinegar, if you have it)

Stir the sauce together and pour into the pan. Stir-fry over a high heat for 2 minutes.

And, we're done! Aaaaah, look at those red onions. They were so good seasoned with the soy and vinegar.

At this point, the chicken and fries were done too.

Do you see what I mean about the chicken releasing its juices?

I thought the fries were even more delish that usual but of course, for crispy fries, bake them separately.

Let the chicken sit on the tray for 5 minutes before slicing in. And, how easy did those slits make said slicing?

Time to dish up!

And, eat!

The stars!

And, these fries were flavoured with the fresh herbs and a hint of the smoky chicken too.

And, as for the chicken, the smoked paprika and chipotle chilli powder made all the difference. It wasn't spicy but there was an undercurrent of smokiness all the way through.

Here's how we cooked the second chicken breast. In the oven, at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes. A shallow dish helped to catch all those juices to make the best dipping sauce/gravy.

Along with steamed carrots, cabbage and peas, another satisfying dinner.
All in all, this was what we needed in the middle of a busy week, where life was one big routine, Ramadan was on it's way, where the calendars (and my tablet background) screamed June but someone had forgotten to inform the weather. This randomly-thought-of dish hit all the right spots and I hope you cook it for Iftar sometime. 

Full Written Recipe:

Peruvian Baked Chicken with Herb Fries + Caramelized Veggies.

Prep Time: About 20 minutes.
Cook Time: About 45 minutes.
Serves: About 4 people.


For the Peruvian Baked Chicken
½ tablespoon Sugar
½ tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Sweet Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Smoked Chipotle Chilli Powder (or red chilli powder)
2 large Chicken Breasts (total weight - 1 pound 10 ounces), slit

For the Herb Fries
3 medium Potatoes
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
1 medium Rosemary Sprig, finely chopped
2 small Thyme Sprigs, leaves only
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and finely chopped
Olive Oil, as needed

For the Caramelized Veggies
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Red Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Jalapeno, sliced
¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Chilli Flakes
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Vinegar


To make the chicken: in a small jug, mix together the lime juice, vinegar, salt and sugar.
In a separate small bowl, place the olive oil, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli powder and garlic. Stir together and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds until aromatic and the oil begins to bubble.
Add this to the lime juice mixture, stir and let it cool for 5 minutes.

Place the chicken into a bowl and pour over the marinade. Cover and marinade for a few hours or overnight.

To bake the chicken alone, place them onto a foil-lined baking tray and bake at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Be sure to turn them over halfway through cooking.

For the herb oven fries: peel the potatoes and cut them into thin fries. Place into a bowl and add the salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and olive oil. Toss together.

To bake the herb fries alone, place them onto a foil-lined baking tray and bake in pre-heated oven at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes until golden and crispy.

To bake chicken and fries together, place both onto a foil-lined baking tray, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C / Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes until cooked through. Turn chicken halfway through cooking. The fries may be done sooner so keep an eye on them.

To make the caramelized veggies: heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the red onion, red bell pepper and jalapeno. Stir-fry over a low heat until soft and beginning to caramelize. To speed up this process, cover the pan with a lid and leave on a low heat for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the crushed red chilli flakes, soy sauce and vinegar. Add to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Serve up.

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Keep me in your duas, please, and I hope you're having a beautiful Ramadan,


Spice Enthusiast
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