What is pollo a la brasa and why is it so delicious?
In this era of curbside pickup, takeout, and outdoor dining, Americans want food that packs a punch without being fussy. One delicious homestyle option for today’s diner is pollo a la brasa, Spanish for rotisserie chicken—the Latin way. With roots in Peru, pollo a la brasa is distinctly juicy and versatile. Purveyors and new fans alike credit the chicken for achieving that perfect balance: moist on the inside and crispy, seasoned skin on the outside. Plus, it’s easy to transport and eat anywhere, from backyard settings to the beach. It’s Peru’s top fast food for a reason!
So what gives pollo a la brasa its memorable taste? It’s a combination of the marinade and the cooking method, which dates back to 1950. Every pollo a la brasa chef has their preferred (and perhaps secret) marinade, but the cooking method is far more uniform. The rotisserie process takes place over wood coals, as first selected and popularized by the founder of the Peruvian chicken feast, Roger Schuler. It’s these coals that lend the chicken a unique smoky flavor.
Pollo a la brasa is so endeared to Peruvians that Peru’s National Institute of Culture named the dish the national culinary speciality in 2004. The country has even given the dish its own national holiday (Día del Pollo a la brasa), which takes place the third Sunday of July.
Like many meat dishes, pollo a la brasa also has its very own condiment: el ají pollero. In English, it’s often called Peruvian yellow sauce, though the literal translation refers to the yellow chili peppers used to make the sauce. The sauce is indeed yellow, in addition to being wonderfully creamy. While other Latin cultures have their own version of rotisserie chicken, this sauce is uniquely Peruvian.
Common side dishes for pollo a la brasa include white rice (garlicky and the good kind of oily!), black beans (full of protein and fiber), French fries (even better than the French make them), yellow rice (so fluffy!), garlic potatoes, house salad, fried bananas, yuca, and tostones. For the unfamiliar, yuca is a potato-like tuber that can be boiled or fried; it’s usually fried and served with dipping sauce in Peruvian cuisine. Meanwhile, tostones are twice-fried plantain slices that are cute and circular in form.
Of course, there are the drinks one should try with their pollo a la brasa experience, too. Usually, one has a fresh fruit juice with pollo a la brasa, like mango, passion fruit, or peach juice. But it’s not unheard of to unwind with pollo a la brasa and a bottle of beer. Again, it’s a casual dish.
In Central and South Florida, the best family-style Peruvian restaurant for pollo a la brasa lovers is La Granja Restaurants, a popular franchise with a corporate office in Margate. Established in 1993, La Granja specializes in delicious Peruvian rotisserie chicken, with locations from Miami to Orlando. La Granja allows customers to order online with Doordash or Grubhub and offers curbside pickup and delivery in Central and South Florida locales.
For a quick introduction to pollo a la brasa and its yummy typical sides, try La Granja’s 1/4 Chicken Lunch Special, starting at $5.25. It comes with a side of white rice and black beans customers won’t forget.
La Granja chicken platters include: • 1/4 chicken with rice and beans • 1/2 chicken with rice and beans • Whole chicken with rice and beans • Boneless breast with rice and beans • Chicken wings served with French fries
La Granja specials include: • 1/4 chicken with rice and beans (Monday through Friday until 4 p.m.) • 1/4 chicken with rice, beans, bananas, and soda • 1/2 chicken with rice, beans, bananas, and soda • 1/2 lb. grilled steak with rice, beans, bananas, and soda (not pollo a la brasa but still delicious!) • 1/2 lb. grilled pork with rice, beans, bananas, and soda (not pollo a la brasa, either, but also delicious!)
La Granja family meals include: • 1/4 chicken, 1/2 lb. grilled steak, and 1/2 lb. grilled pork served with large rice, large beans, large French fries, and 4 sodas • Whole chicken, 1 lb. grilled steak, and 1 lb. grilled pork served with large rice, large beans, large French fries, and 4 sodas • Beef sautéed or chicken sautéed, served with double rice and French fries (feeds 4 people)
La Granja also prepares fajitas, steak platters, pork platters, seafood platters, and sandwiches. Love ceviche? La Granja’s got it! And, as one might expect, grilled chicken sandwiches are on the menu, too. La Granja also serves beer and wine.
Find out more about La Granja’s pollo a la brasa and other dishes at www.lagranjarestaurants.com.