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Why This Recipe Works

One of the world’s great roast chickens, pollo a la brasa boasts a bronzed exterior seasoned with a robust paste of garlic, spices, lime juice, chile, and mint. Lacking the spit traditionally used to roast the bird whole, we instead figured, why not use leg quarters? They fit neatly in our roasting pan and yielded more bronzed skin coated in a tasty paste. We smeared the paste over and under the skin before letting the chicken rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. We used our roasting pan to brown a side of sweet potatoes before arranging the chicken on top and roasting both together, allowing the chicken drippings to baste the potatoes as they became tender. We then removed the chicken and potatoes to rest while we cooked 4 pounds of chard in the delicious juices left behind, ensuring there was plenty to go around.

Serves 6
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Some leg quarters are sold with backbone attached; removing it (with a heavy chef’s knife) before cooking makes the chicken easier to serve.

¼ cup fresh mint leaves
10 garlic cloves (5 chopped, 5 sliced)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus ¼  cup juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced habanero chile
6 (10-ounce) chicken leg quarters, trimmed
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, ends squared off, and sliced into 1-inch-thick rounds
4 pounds Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Process mint, chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, cumin, honey, paprika, oregano, lime zest and juice, 2 teaspoons pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and habanero in blender until smooth, 20 seconds.

2. Using your fingers, gently loosen skin covering thighs and drumsticks and spread half of paste directly on meat. Spread remaining half of paste over exterior of chicken. Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

3. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt in bowl. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 16 by 12-inch roasting pan over medium-high heat (over 2 burners, if possible) until shimmering. Add potatoes, cut side down, and cook until well browned on bottom, 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Off heat, flip potatoes. Lay chicken, skin side up, on top. Roast until thighs and drumsticks register 175 degrees and potatoes are tender, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through roasting.

5. Remove pan from oven. Transfer potatoes and chicken to platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Being careful of hot pan handles, pour off all but ¼ cup liquid left in pan. Add sliced garlic and cook over high heat (over 2 burners, if possible) until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chard and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until chard is wilted and tender, about 8 minutes; transfer to serving bowl.

6. Sprinkle cilantro over chicken and potatoes and serve with chard and lime wedges.

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