This chicken originated in a taxi ride with my young daughter. When televisions were first placed in the back seats of New York taxis (yes, we have TVs in our taxis -- we can't survive without a screen for the length of a car trip, apparently), the featured news programs used to broadcast neighborhood restaurant "reviews." There was a review of a Brazilian restaurant in the borough of Queens that featured a chicken slathered in a garlic- red pepper purée and thrown on the asador as flames leapt up around the chicken parts. We could almost smell and taste it. We started to get hungry. When we got home, I was able to access the segment online and have another look. Since that time, I have made the marinade many times, but numerous searches online have failed to turn up that video, the name of the restaurant, or the recipe. Over time I've added the bay leaves and Aleppo pepper. Fresh bay leaves are completely different from dried and add indescribable flavor. You can follow the recipe for one bird or three and extra purée can be frozen. Well worth a NYC taxi fare! —creamtea
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Creamtea is the mastermind behind all-star recipes like Moroccan Guacamole Toast and Glazed Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza.
WHAT: A roasted chicken recipe inspired by a commercial in a taxi that has us thinking we should take cabs more often.
HOW: Slather a purée of bell peppers, garlic, and fresh bay leaves over whole chickens or chicken parts. Roast in the oven until your chicken is golden-brown and the purée has magically transformed into a sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We would eat this garlic-red pepper purée on just about anything, but it’s irresistible over a perfectly-roasted chicken. The bell peppers and red wine vinegar add balance and depth, but it’s the Aleppo pepper and fresh bay leaves that make it so much more than your standard sauce. —The Editors
12 to 14
lemons (optional) if using whole chicken
3 1/2 pound chickens, whole or cut-up, rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
ripe red bell peppers, medium to large, seeded, quartered, and coarsely chopped
head garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and coarsely chopped (remove the germ or sprout inside each clove, if desired)
red wine vinegar
fresh bay leaves, central vein removed and torn into pieces
1/2 to 1 teaspoons
Aleppo pepper, if desired, or a small pinch Cayenne pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoons
sea salt or more, according to taste
Preheat oven to 375º F and lightly salt the chicken or parts. If cooking whole birds, place one lemon half per bird inside each cavity and tie together the legs with kitchen twine. Tie another piece of twine around the upper section, including the wings, to promote even cooking.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the next 6 ingredients, from the bell peppers to the Aleppo pepper. Process until puréed, scraping down the sides as necessary
With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream until incorporated.
For whole chickens: place them breast-side down on the rack of a roasting pan, slather the backs generously with the purée. At this point, you can refrigerate for an hour or so to allow flavors to permeate the chicken.
Spoon the sauce from the bottom of the pan on top of the chicken right before roasting. Pour some water into the roasting pan about 1 inch deep to prevent the sauce from burning. Roast the whole birds in lower third of oven the until backs are browned, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the chickens breast-side up on rack and slather with more sauce from the bottom of the pan. Return to oven and roast until done, about 45 additional minutes, adding more water to the bottom of pan as needed. You may need to lower the heat to 350º F if the sauce is starting to overcook or burn.
Check for doneness: an instant-read thermometer should read 165º F in the thickest part of the thigh. Pierce the breast meat with a skewer -- juices should run clear -- or hold up the whole birds vertically with a pair of tongs (use care) and allow the juices from cavity to drip into pan. Juices should be clear, not pink.
For chicken parts: If using chicken parts, place them in a roasting pan (or two) in one layer. Slather generously with purée. At this point, you can refrigerate the chicken pieces for an hour or so to allow flavors to permeate. Roast in lower third of oven, lowering temperature to 350º F as necessary, until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer registers 165º F.
Transfer to a heated platter. Pour juices into a fat separator and pour into a pan set over low heat to warm briefly if desired. Carve or divide into parts and serve with pan juices on the side.