*Photos and content updated October 2011*
Inspiration: I’ve mentioned before that we get a whole chicken as part of our CSA delivery every month. I”m always on the lookout for unique roasted chicken recipes!
What we Loved: The aji verde sauce is what makes this meal. It turns a normal roasted chicken recipe (which is great in its own right) into something completely different and unique. The sauce is a touch spicy from the jalapenos, and it’s very creamy and salty from the Cotija cheese. The best part is that it’s so fresh, vibrant, and green, which is really delightful on your palate. The bright flavors of the peppers and cilantro pair so well with the rest of the meal. I served the chicken and sauce over cauliflower rice mixed with sauteed onions, butter, and cilantro, and I loved how the sauce seeped down into the rice as we ate. Brandon noted that he loved this meal because it was a really great change of pace for roasted chicken, and I completey agree. If you’re looking for something a little different than a typical roast chicken, then this is a great recipe to try.
Helpful Hints: If you can’t find Cotija cheese, the closest substitute that I can think of might be feta, because it has a similar crumbly texture to Cotija and also has that nice saltiness. (As an update – feta works great! The end result is very similar to [if not better than] using Cotija cheese. Since I prefer to have leftover feta hanging around the house instead of Cotija, and since feta is easier to find, I will probably stick to using feta in the future.)
Roasted Chicken with Aji Verde Sauce
Source: Adapted from Sunday Nite Dinner, originally from Food Network Kitchens Cookbook
For the chicken
1 3-5 lb chicken
For the sauce
3/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup Cotija cheese or feta cheese
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Pat your chicken dry, and sprinkle with Kosher salt. (I’m very liberal with the salt, as in this recipe, but you can ease back on the salt if you’re not keen on it. The aji verde sauce is plenty salty, especially if you use Cotija).
2. Roast the chicken at 450 degrees until the temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees, approximately 1 hour.
3. Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with foil, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
4. While the chicken is sitting, make the sauce. Combine the cilantro, Cotija or feta, jalapenos, and garlic in a food processor. Add a good drizzle of olive oil and about the same amount of water. Process until everything is combined into a smooth sauce. You may need to add extra oil and water until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
5. Serve the chicken topped with the sauce.