la vida comida

food. life.

Author: Jennifer Ramos (page 2 of 3)

Holy crap, I’m on TV!…

… for three minutes, anyway.

Today my blog was featured on the local New York NBC affiliate TV station, WNYT-Albany, in a segment called “Today’s Women.”  The featured recipe is tacu tacu con apanado, an Afro-Peruvian dish that highlights the significant contribution the African slaves made to Peruvian cuisine.

Here’s the video:

I was honored to be chosen, and I’m grateful to Elaine Houston and WNYT News Channel 13 for helping spread the word about my blog! I hope people will visit and learn something new about Latin American cuisine!

If you’re checking out my blog for the first time, welcome! I hope you’ll return often – or feel free to subscribe via RSS at the top of the page. If you like this site, please click the “like” Facebook button too!

Questions, comments, suggestions, and requests are always welcome. Please feel free to email me via the Contact page.

Thanks for reading!

Locro / Andean Squash Stew

Locro (ruqru in Quechua) is a pre-Colombian Incan meal that originated in the Andes Mountains. In Peru, it is a stew of pumpkin or squash, potatoes, corn and cheese (which was added after the Spanish conquest). It’s usually a winter dish; but I thought it would be perfect for this gloomy, rainy spell we’ve been enduring here in New York.

[In Ecuador, locro is a potato and cheese soup served with avocado. There is also a dish called locro in Argentina; but it is more of a meat-and-potatoes stew.]

I imagine some might turn up their noses at a “plain old squash” stew – I thought I would, too. But the hearty but clean, simple flavors shine through. I love this dish – I bet you will too!

 

Locro / Peruvian Pumpkin Stew
Servings Prep Time
4people 15minutes
Cook Time
70minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 15minutes
Cook Time
70minutes
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oilextra virgin
  • 2pounds acorn squash,peeled, large dice (about 2 small squashes)
  • 1medium yellow onionsmall dice
  • 3cloves garlicminced
  • 1Tbsp. ají amarillo paste
  • 1tsp. flour, all-purpose
  • 2medium yellow potatoespeeled, quartered
  • 8oz. peas,fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 8oz. queso fresco(for stew)
  • 4oz. queso fresco(for garnish)
  • 2cups stock,chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2cup heavy cream(or evaporated milk)
  • 1Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4tsp. white pepper
  • 1Tbsp. huacataypaste (or fresh, if possible)
  • 6large olives,Peruvian or kalamata, sliced
Instructions
Mise en place:
  1. Gather / measure / prep all ingredients.
Stew:
  1. Heat the oil; sauté the onion until translucent (4-5 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ají amarillo paste; cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the flour; stir to incorporate, and cook for one minute.
  4. Deglaze with stock, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer; then add the squash. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes; cook for 20-25 minutes more (until potatoes are just tender).
  7. Add peas and corn; cook for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Stir in milk or cream and butter; blend. Gently fold in cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  9. Serve with white rice; garnish with chopped oregano, sliced olives and cubes of cheese.
Recipe Notes

This recipe makes a pea-soupy consistency. For a thicker stew, use ½ the amount of stock and milk.

Butternut squash is particularly good substitution. Pumpkin can also be used.

This hearty stew is a great vegetarian meal option.

For a vegan locro: substitute vegan vegetable stock, tofu cheese, and almond milk; use olive or vegetable oil instead of butter.

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

The History of Peruvian Pisco

* For those of you who’d rather skip the history and get right to the Pisco Sour recipe – click here.!

pisco sour

Pisco is clear Peruvian grape brandy, made by distilling the fresh musts of specific varieties of grapes. It is the national spirit of both Peru and Chile. There has been an ongoing battle between Peru and Chile for credit for its creation; but it is internationally recognized as originating in Peru. Pisco probably began to be produced in Chile after its occupation of southern Peru in the late 19th century.We’ll concentrate on Peruvian pisco, which is universally believed to be the gold standard.

The name pisco itself has an interesting history. Pisqu or pissqu means “little bird” or “seagull” in the Quechua language. Legend has it that an Ica Valley tribe was renowned for its skilled potters. Chuquimanco, the tribe’s chief, saw a flock of pisqu seabirds, and was inspired to name the potters’ village after them.  This Incan tribe produced amphora-style clay vessels to store liquids, as well as to ferment chicha (corn mash beer), which is the only alcoholic beverage attributable to the pre-Colombian Incas. These vessels came to be called piskos, after the tribe that made them; this eventually evolved into the word pisco.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they imposed their lifestyle upon Peru. Wine was a basic component of daily life (and the Catholic Church); so the Spanish quickly imported Iberian grapes to Peru. European black Muscatel grapes were planted throughout Peru’s southern coastal valleys in the mid-1500s. These grapes, which had been previously used to make raisins and brandy, became the grape of choice for Peruvian winemaking. Advanced Incan irrigation canals were already in place in the Ica Valley, which carried melted snow down from the Andes Mountains; as a result, viniculture was able to flourish in this hot, desert area.

These Muscatel grapes came to be known in Peru as quebranta, which means “broken-in.” As the grapes acclimatized to their new environment, they developed into a genetic mutation, becoming their own discrete variety. Quite fortuitously, this mutation rendered quebranta grapes resistant (though not immune) to the phylloxera insect that all but destroyed European grape stock in the 19th century.

quebranta grapes

Peruvian wine trade thrived; and the Ica’s capital city and main port, Pisco, bustled with wine exports. In fact, during the 1600s, Peruvian wine production became so lucrative that King Felipe II of Spain banned Peruvian wine imports altogether, to eliminate competition with Spain. Consequently, grape farmers increased production of aguardiente (fermented alcoholic beverages) throughout the Viceroyalty in the mid 16th century – especially Peruvian grape brandy. Peruvian brandy soon became popular among travelers to the region. Its popularity spread; and exports from Ica’s capital city and main port, Pisco, increased considerably. It became widely known as pisco because of the double reference (to both storage vessel and port).

Pisco even made a brief appearance in U.S. history during the California gold rush era. Ships bound for California stopped in Pisco, picking up pisco and other liquors, which they then traded in California ports. Pisco became extremely popular in San Francisco; the Bank Exchange & Billiard Room created Pisco Punch: a potent brew of pisco, pineapple and lemon or lime juice, gum Arabic, and distilled water – so potent, in fact, that several celebrated writers (including Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling) wrote about it and helped spread its popularity, until Prohibition closed the Exchange’s doors.

So to recap: the name pisco refers to the region, the port, the clay vessels, and the beverage itself… which clearly shows pisco’s great importance to Peruvian culture.

Pisco Today

Peruvians take exceptional pride in their pisco. To preserve its quality and reputation, a series of policies and laws have regulated the production, classification and appellation of pisco from the 19th century to the present day. Today, Pisco is produced in legally designated areas of origin, and production is closely monitored. Proof is not regulated, though it is usually about 42%. Pisco must be aged for a minimum of three months in vessels that do not alter the pisco in any way, and no additives whatsoever are permitted.

There are four recognized grades of Peruvian pisco:

puro (non-aromatic)

Made primarily from Quebranta grapes (considered to be the best), but sometimes from Mollar, Common Black, or Uvina grapes.It is produced exclusively from one single variety of pisco grapes, which is indicated on the bottle label. It is the most exported and sought-after grade of pisco, as it is considered to be the highest quality.

aromático (aromatic)

Fresh musts fermented from the blending of ‘aromatic’ pisco grape varieties, such as Muscat, Italia, Torontel, and Albilla.

italia grapes

acholado (also called “half-breed”)

Made from blending any varieties of Pisco grapes, both aromatic and non-aromatic.

musto verde (green must)

Partially fermented fresh must that is distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed all the sugars into alcohol. Not necessarily sweeter; but exceptionally smooth.

Each grade has its own unique flavor profile; but I would say that the unifying characteristics of good pisco are smoothness and clean, fresh flavors. It is so smooth that it’s difficult to taste the alcohol… which has both benefits and risks! The best piscos are meant to be sipped neat. I prefer to drink pisco in mixed cocktails (see my Pisco Sour recipe, and look for more pisco drink recipes coming soon!). I personally like puro for Pisco Sours, and aromático for fruitier drinks. Sample different varieties to see which you prefer.

Pisco does have its detractors, who say that it’s just a clear brandy… but they don’t know what they’re missing. I think it’s a truly unique addition to your beverage repertoire.  I hope you’ll give it a try!

Even though pisco is surfacing on the U.S. radar again, it can still be difficult to find in the U.S. But ask your local wine and spirit merchant – many are very willing to order special items for their customers.  Here is a list of some great Piscos – hope this helps.

Salud!

Aguadito / Hangover Soup!

Aguadito (“thin little broth”) is a very traditional Peruvian soup. It’s an incredibly aromatic and flavorful hen soup with sofrito, lots of cilantro, and a kitchen-sink list of ingredients. You may wonder why I’m posting a hot soup recipe, just as summer is getting underway here on the East Coast. Allow me to give a bit of a background explanation.

Peruvians are simply infamous for their partying lifestyle. On holidays and special occasions, the festivities can last well into the night – and often extend into the following day! Their drinking abilities are the stuff of legend. Lima is known as a clubbing and partying mecca that can be overwhelming for pathetic cheap-date lightweights (such as myself).

All those borrachos inevitably find themselves in the same rocky boat: suffering a miserable hangover. Aguadito is a well-known “morning after” cure. It has a splash of “the hair of the dog” and fiery rocoto to restore the body– and the soul – to party-ready condition once more. Revelers also scarf some down in the wee hours, to fuel their all-night carousing; it often makes its welcome appearance at sunrise, just when spirits start to sag. Aguadito helps stricken Peruvians back to their feet – and back to the club – to live and party another day.

Much of Peru is hot much (in some places, all) of the time, which makes a steaming bowl of soup seem counterintuitive. But believe it or not, consuming hot liquid and spice is believed to cool off the body by increasing sweating. Maybe aguadito helps hangover-sufferers to sweat off the alcohol toxins while rehydrating the body and restoring nutrients. Sounds like a working theory to me.

Anyway… this weekend, I’m featuring an assortment of alcoholic beverages; so I thought I would be proactive. Make this soup ahead of time. If you do overindulge, you’ll have a delicious morning-after cure on hand! Aguadito is great for whatever ails you – whether it’s the flu, a hangover… or just hunger.

Salud!

 

Aguadito / Peruvian hen soup
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Ingredients
Stock:
  • 5pounds hen,whole, skin removed
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2quarts water
  • 1large yellow onionrough chop
  • 4cloves garlicpeeled, halved
  • 2medium carrots,rough chop
  • 2stalks celery,rough chop
  • 1/4cup fresh ginger,peeled, sliced (about 1 oz. piece)
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4tsp. white pepper
  • 2 bay leaf
Soup:
  • 1recipe stock and hen(as above)
  • 1Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 1/2large red onionsmall dice
  • 3cloves garlicminced
  • 1medium red bell peppersmall dice
  • 12oz. beer, lager(1 bottle)
  • 2medium yellow potatoescut in eighths
  • 1cup white rice,long grain
  • 1ear choclo or white corn,cut in
  • 1cup white hominy,drained (optional)
  • 1cup green peasfresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 1cup cilantrochopped
  • 1Tbsp. rocoto paste
  • 2tsp. Kosher salt(to taste)
Instructions
Stock:
  1. Gather / measure / prep ingredients.
  2. Thoroughly rinse hen with cold water; remove giblets. If blanching, do so now. Cool, then remove skin.
  3. Cut hen into pieces; remove the back portion and reserve for another use. Season chicken with the salt and pepper.
  4. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken on both sides. Remove from pot.
  5. Sauté onions until they just begin to color (3-4 minutes). Add carrots, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook 1-2 minutes more.
  6. Lay hen on top of mirepoix vegetables. Fill pot with enough water to cover hen. Add the celery and bay leaves.
  7. Bring to a boil; then cover (but allow to vent slightly). Reduce to a low simmer.
  8. Cook until meat begins to fall off the bone (3 to 3 ½ hours). Skim scum and oil occasionally.
  9. When tender, remove hen from stock; cool. Remove the skin and shred the meat by hand.
  10. Strain stock into a separate pot. Return stock to a simmer.
Soup:
  1. While stock is simmering, prepare soup mise en place.
  2. Heat olive oil in original pot; sauté red onions until translucent.
  3. Add red pepper, rocoto paste and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes more.
  4. Deglaze with beer. Scrape bottom with wooden spoon to release the fond (the flavorful film stuck to the bottom of the pot). Cook until the alcohol is evaporated.
  5. Add the stock to the pot; bring to a simmer.
  6. Add potatoes and rice; cook until potatoes are tender and rice is al dente (about 15 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  7. Add corn; cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the minced cilantro and reserved chicken pieces; cook another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Taste; adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle soup into deep serving bowls; be sure to place a potato and a piece of choclo in each.
Recipe Notes

It may help to briefly blanch the hen in hot water to help remove the tough skin.

The hen makes a great deal of meat, even without the back. If you prefer more broth, only add half of the shredded hen; save the remainder for another purpose (like ají de gallina).

Variations

You can substitute pre-made chicken stock, and use already-cooked chicken (i.e. leftover roast, etc.).

You can also substitute a whole chicken for the hen; however, the stock cooking time will be shortened significantly (1 ½ to 2 hours).

This soup can also be made with turkey (aguadito de pavo). Replace the hen meat with 5 pounds of turkey (breast, leg and wing). Follow the recipe as is.

 

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.

Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

Causa Limeña / Peruvian Potato Casserole

The first time I ever ate causa, I was a newlywed, just beginning to learn about Peruvian cuisine. My husband’s brother Ricardo came to visit; I knew that in addition to being a professor, author and journalist, he is also an expert gourmet cook in his own right, and has contributed to the Spanish-language Gourmet magazine. So I was very excited that he had offered to cook for us.

But once I heard that he was making causa – and found out what it was – I was disappointed… and slightly horrified. As an American who never cared for hot mashed potatoes, I wondered how, for the sake of politeness, I was going to choke down a plate of cold lumpy mush. And even with my minimal familiarity with marital politics, I knew this would be required.

I was more a little surprised after my first bite. Causa was absolutely delicious! It was nothing like I’d imagined. It’s a perfect metaphor for Peruvian cuisine itself: it takes humble ingredients, marries them uniquely, and presents them in an entirely new light.  Muchas gracias, Tio Richard!

This is a beloved and ubiquitous Peruvian dish. There are conflicting tales of its origin. One story states that it originated in pre-Colombian times: kausay in Quechua means “what nurtures you” or “what gives you life,” which many believe was the name of an Inca meal of papa amarilla and ají amarillo.  Another story asserts that causa originated from the time of the War of the Pacific. When food for the troops ran short, Peruvian women ran from door to door, seeking supplies. Most people offered the abundant potato, along with whatever they could spare; so the women prepared the hodgepodge ingredients in a kind of sandwich, for convenience and portability. As the women fed the troops, they are said to have declared: “Por la causa!” (“For the Cause!”) Thus, according to legend, causa was born.

Whatever its origins, causa can now be found in all facets of Peruvian life – at home, in restaurants, at parties and events – with unlimited variations. I would be hard-pressed to find a more perfect summer meal than causa. Cool and refreshing, yet loaded with flavor and just a touch of spice, it matches wonderfully with a slightly sweet Riesling. Just in time for the hot weather!

This is my own version of causa limeña. It combines two of my favorite things: seafood and pisco. I urge you to give it a chance!

 

Seafood Causa
Servings Prep Time
8servings 1hour
Cook Time
55minutes
Servings Prep Time
8servings 1hour
Cook Time
55minutes
Ingredients
Potato Filling
  • 1pound yellow potatoes
  • 2Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4cup ají amarillo paste
  • 1/4tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1/4tsp. white pepper (to taste)
Yucca Filling
  • 1pound yucca, frozen
  • 1/2each fresh lemon juice
  • 2Tbsp. butter
  • 3Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper (to taste)
Seafood Filling
  • 1large red onion, minced
  • 1Tbsp. rice wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 8oz. shrimp, deveined, 31-35 count
  • 3Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1/4cup (1) Pisco
  • 4fillets white fish (cod, sole, flounder)
  • 1cup crab meat, lump
  • 1/2each lemon juice, fresh
  • 1each lemon zest
  • 1cup mayonnaise, fresh
  • 1/4cup (1) rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1/4tsp. white pepper
Poaching LIquid
  • 1cup fish or vegetable stock
  • 1tsp. (2) rice wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4cup (2) Pisco
  • 1each baking soda
  • 1/2tsp. Kosher salt
Garnish
  • 1recipe mayonesa de palta
  • 1whole avocado
  • 4oz. shrimp, 31-35 count, cooked
Instructions
Potato Filling:
  1. Place potatoes, skins on, in a pot; fill with enough cold salted water to cover.
  2. Bring to a boil; simmer until fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Cool slightly, then peel.
  3. While still warm, run through a food mill or sieve, or mash with a ricer, until smooth and without lumps. You can also work by hand. (Do not process in a food processor; you will wind up with glue!)
  4. Add salt, oil, butter and ají amarillo; blend well. Set aside to cool.
Yucca Filling
  1. Place yucca in cold salted water in a pot; fill with enough cold salted water to cover. Squeeze half a lemon into the water; then add the lemon itself.
  2. Bring to a boil; simmer until fork tender (about 20-25 minutes). Cool slightly. Remove fibrous strings; discard.
  3. While still warm, run through a food mill or sieve (or mash with a ricer) until smooth and without lumps. You can also work by hand.
  4. Add salt, oil and butter; blend well. Set aside to cool.
Seafood Filling:
  1. Place minced onion in a bowl; add vinegar (1), then fill with water. Soak for 5-10 minutes; then drain.
  2. In a medium pot with a lid (or small rondeau), sauté shrimp in butter (including garnish shrimp) over medium-high heat until pink. Set aside to cool. When cool, reserve garnish shrimp; remove shells and dice the remaining shrimp.
  3. Sauté onion until soft and translucent. Deglaze with pisco (1). Taste; add salt and white pepper as desired. Prepare Mayonesa de Palta; set aside.
  4. When alcohol evaporates, add stock, vinegar (2), pisco (2), and bay leaf. Bring liquid to a simmer.
  5. Maintain heat at a very low simmer. Gently lay fish on top of onions, but make sure it is submerged in the liquid.
  6. Cover and poach fish for about 6-8 minutes / until fish is firm. Remove fish and onions from pan using a slotted spoon. (Don’t worry if it falls apart!) Drain well – squeeze out excess liquid if necessary – and allow to cool.
  7. Mix fish with diced shrimp, crab, mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest.
  8. Taste; add salt and white pepper as desired.
  9. Prepare Mayonesa de Palta; set aside.
To Assemble:
  1. Lightly grease a Pyrex dish with vegetable oil. Line it with plastic wrap, then lightly oil plastic wrap once again.
  2. Layer fillings into the dish. Start with yucca on the bottom; then seafood; then potato.
  3. Smooth each layer with an offset spatula.
  4. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  5. Remove top plastic wrap; spread avocado mayonnaise evenly over the top. Refrigerate ½ hour to 1 hour more.
  6. When chilled, cut 3 x 3, to make 9 squares. Clean your knife in between each cut.
  7. Garnish with avocado slices and whole shrimp.
Recipe Notes

Tips

Court bouillon is the traditional liquid for poaching fish. But there are enough steps with this recipe already! If you poach fish frequently, and want to have court bouillon on hand (it keeps for a long time), you can find an easy recipe here.

Variations

Causa variations are limited only by the imagination! Substitute your favorite chicken or tuna salad for the seafood. For a vegetarian option, replace the seafood with diced roasted vegetables (eggplant and roasted peppers are particularly good).

For a boost of flavor, reduce the poaching liquid until there is just a small residue in the bottom of the pot. Cool, then add ½ to 1 tsp. to the seafood filling (but make sure to omit any added salt).

For a pretty presentation, lightly oil a ring mold; layer as above; remove and garnish.

 

Ají de Gallina / Spicy Peruvian Hen Stew

Ají de gallina is the quintessential Peruvian dish:  it is a perfect fusion of Andean and European cuisines. It has some roots in pre-Columbian times: the Inca people cooked a breed of chicken called the “hualpa” (which was renamed after Atahaulpa, the last Inca ruler, who was executed by the Spanish) with hot pepper.  Ají amarillo was – and still is – the most commonly used pepper in Peruvian kitchens; and it is the key flavoring ingredient in this recipe.

However, it is also related to the Spanish precursor to manjar blanco, which was a cooked dish that included milk and almonds. The Spaniards added cheese and olives. French chefs who came to Peru in the 19th century may have changed the dish into more of a creamy fricassée, possibly adding the European use of a panada as thickening agent, and shredded chicken instead of the Quechua tradition of large chunks. Native chopped peanuts replaced the almonds as well. In short, each culture made its mark; and ultimately created an entirely new dish that is now uniquely Peruvian.

Ají de gallina is a treasured national dish. Every Peruvian home cook has this recipe in his / her repertoire, and adds a personal spin.  It was my husband’s childhood favorite, and he says that it is a common favorite of many Peruvian children. His mother made it for every birthday celebration. Unfortunately, I have corrupted him: he now requests my braised beef short ribs with my top-secret mango-tamarind barbecue sauce! But that’s another post.

This recipe is traditionally made with non-egg-laying hens. Hen is older and tougher than the regular frying or roasting chickens that are commonly sold here; but is much more flavorful. You’ll need to boil the heck out of it to make it tender… but I promise, the flavor is well worth the extra time. I’m not one to promote the big-box stores… but you can often find hen in the frozen food section of that megalomaniacal corporation that starts with a “W.” If you can get a fresh hen at your local butcher or grocery store, so much the better. Use a whole roasting chicken if you must – but don’t use chicken breast! Bone chicken is essential to create a flavorful stock and moist meat.

This dish is usually served as an entrée at home, with both rice and potatoes; and as an appetizer in restaurants, with potatoes only.

* * Please note – there are several steps which require advance preparation and waiting time. * * 

Please read recipe through before beginning!

 

Ají de Gallina / Spicy Peruvian Hen Stew
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Ingredients
Stock:
  • 5pound hen,
  • 2 1/2-3quarts water
  • 1large carrot,peeled and halved
  • 1large yellow onionquartered
  • 1stalk celery,halved
  • 2cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1Tbsp. cumin, ground
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2tsp. white pepper
Stew base:
  • 1/4cup olive oilextra virgin
  • 1large yellow onionsmall dice
  • 4cloves garlicminced
  • 10slices white bread,crusts removed
  • 12oz. evaporated milk(1 can)
  • 2 1/2cups hen stock(as needed - from above recipe)
  • 1/2cup Parmesan cheesefreshly grated
  • 1/4cup ají amarillo paste
  • 1/4tsp. Kosher salt(to taste)
  • 1/8tsp. white pepper(to taste)
Garnish
  • 4medium yellow potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 olives,Peruvian or kalamata, pitted and halved
Instructions
Mise
  1. Gather / measure / prep ingredients.
Stock
  1. Remove giblets from hen; thoroughly rinse, inside and out. Place hen in a large stockpot; fill with cold water until bird is covered.
  2. Add quartered onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, white pepper and salt; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover partially (allow to vent) and simmer for at least 2 ½ – 3 hours (until hen is so tender that it begins to fall off the bone, and the legs / wings can be easily pulled from the body). Periodically skim surface oil and scum off the surface of the stock. If your pot is small and hen is not completely covered with water, turn after 1 hour.
  4. * While stock is cooking, prep stew base and garnish ingredients (see below).
  5. Add the potatoes to the stock for the last 25 minutes. (Remove when fork-tender, if done before the stock.)
  6. Strain; make sure to retain the broth in a pot, and keep it hot on the stove.
  7. Remove hen, and allow to cool. Discard remainder of strained ingredients.
  8. When hen is cool, peel off the skin and discard. Remove the hen meat from the bone, and shred finely by hand.
Stew
  1. Gather / measure / prep mise en place.
  2. Cut the bread first; allow to sit out for 1-2 hours.
  3. Soak the dry bread in the milk until saturated. Place in a food processor, and purée until smooth.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat; sauté the onion until soft and translucent (4-5 minutes). Add garlic and ají amarillo paste; sauté 2-3 more minutes.
  5. Add bread mixture; stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until liquid evaporates and mix is dry.
  6. Add one ladle (½ cup) of stock at a time, stirring to prevent sticking. When liquid evaporates, add another ladle-full. Repeat, for a total of 4 ladles (or until a thick sauce consistency is reached).
  7. (Optional: at this point, you can purée the sauce, using a hand blender.)
  8. Add the cheese and the shredded hen meat. Add one more ladle of stock; mix well to combine. Remove from heat.
  9. Taste; add salt and pepper as desired. (It may not need any.) If sauce is too thick, add one more ladle of stock, and mix well.
  10. Serve gallina atop boiled plain potatoes; garnish with hard-boiled egg, black olives, and crushed peanuts or walnuts. You may also add arroz a la Peruana as a second side dish.
Recipe Notes

You can serve this as a main dish, or (in smaller portions) as an appetizer or first course.

Refrigerate or freeze the extra stock – it makes a delicious soup or stew base.

You can substitute 1 sleeve of Saltine crackers for some or all of the bread.

Evaporated milk is used in many Peruvian recipes. For a much thicker and richer sauce, substitute heavy cream for the evaporated milk.

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.

Papa Rellena / Stuffed Potato Croquettes

No long-winded post today… just a long-winded recipe! These delicious potato croquettes are most likely rooted in French classical cuisine; it seems to have appeared in the 19th century, when many Europeans (and French chefs) immigrated to Peru.

The name is somewhat of a misnomer: it’s actually a combination of papa and yuca rellena. You can use all potato, or all yucca; but I think the blending provides the tenderness and sweetness of potato, as well as the firmness and distinctive taste of yucca – the best of both worlds!

Papa rellena make an excellent hors d’œuvre, or a delicious light meal or snack.

 

Papas Rellenas / Stuffed Potato Croquettes
Servings Prep Time
8croquettes 45minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Servings Prep Time
8croquettes 45minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
Potato Dough:
  • 1pounds yellow potato
  • 8oz. yucca,frozen, defrosted
  • 1 1/2tsp. lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 1/2tsp. butter
  • 1/4tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/8tsp. white pepper
Filling:
  • 2Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 1pound ground beef(or finely chopped sirloin)
  • 1pound ground pork(or finely chopped pork loin)
  • 1large yellow onionsmall dice
  • 5cloves garlicminced
  • 4medium plum tomato,small dice
  • 4large eggs
  • 1/2cup olives, pitted, minced(Peruvian or kalamata)
  • 1tsp. paprika
  • 1packet Goya Sazon seasoning
  • 1/2tsp. Kosher salt(to taste)
  • 1/2tsp. black pepper(to taste)
Breading:
  • 1cup flourall-purpose
  • 3large eggs
  • 1cup bread crumbs,homemade or panko, crushed
Instructions
Mise en place
  1. Gather / measure ingredients.
Potato dough:
  1. Peel potatoes; cut in eighths, and place in a bowl of cold salted water. Place the yucca into a pot with cold salted water and the juice of half a lemon; place the lemon itself into the water. Bring yucca to a rapid boil; after 10 minutes, add the potatoes and eggs. Boil for 15 more minutes. (If potatoes and yucca are not done, remove eggs and continue cooking potatoes and yucca. They should be fork-tender, but not mushy.) Drain potatoes and yucca; place hard-boiled eggs in cold water to cool. Remove fibrous strings from yucca. Run potato and yucca through a food mill (or mash finely with a ricer, or pass through a tamis). While still warm, mix in the butter, salt and white pepper (to taste). Blend well. Set aside to cool.
  2. When cool, flour your hands and a work surface; knead the potato by hand until it becomes a smooth dough without any lumps. Cover with plastic until ready to use.
Filling:
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Thoroughly brown the meat; remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Remove all beef fat except a thin coating on the bottom of the pan (about 2 Tbsp). Turn heat down to medium; sauté the onion until lightly caramelized (about 7-8 minutes). Add the garlic, tomato, paprika and Sazon; simmer until liquid evaporates (about 6-7 more minutes). Add beef back to the pan; stir to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl; set aside to cool. Peel and dice the eggs. Dice the olive. Add to the meat, and mix well. Cool filling to room temperature.
Making Croquettes:
  1. Liberally dust all sides of a small, shallow bowl with flour.
  2. Place the scooped potato dough into the bowl. Make a well in the center.
  3. Place 1 Tbsp. of filling into the well. Do not overfill, and pack down gently with a spoon.
  4. Make a flat dough “hat” to cover the filling. Press gently to seal the edges. Invert the bowl, and pop out the croquette onto the floured surface.
  5. Flour your hands, and gently round the sides with your palms. The traditional shape is that of a football (though I make them in a “puck” shape to optimize the frying surface of the croquette). Dust the croquette with flour; place on a floured plate or sheet pan. Repeat until potato dough is used up.
Breading:
  1. Bread the croquettes using standard breading procedure (SBP); place on a plate.
Frying:
  1. Fry in about ½” of oil. Flip very gently with a fish spatula (using two spatulas if necessary) to avoid splashing the oil. Hold on a rack in a warm oven (200° F) with the door open a crack to vent condensation. Alternately, you can place in a paper bag (placed on a sheet pan) in a warm, open oven.
Serving:
  1. Serve immediately with salsa criolla (and mayonesa de ají, if desired)
Recipe Notes

Do not purée the potato – you will be left with glue! Mash and work the potato by hand.

If using fresh yucca, cook it separately. Remove the tough peel with a sharp knife; then quarter. Boil in salted water with the juice of ½ a lemon for 20-25 minutes / until fork tender. Cool, remove strings, then add to the potato dough.

You can can stuff peppers or top rice with the extra filling. Or, freeze the extra in a Ziploc bag for up to 1 month.

You can also freeze leftover croquettes, and reheat in a 350° F oven for 15-20 minutes.

You can omit the pork and use all beef, if you prefer.

       

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

Tacu Tacu / Peruvian Rice Cakes

The Spanish nobility of the Viceroyalty of Peru had an immense variety of both Spanish and Peruvian indigenous ingredients to work with, and the money and leisure time to experiment with them.

These wealthy Spaniards brought African slaves, who in turn brought their own foods and cooking techniques. As they worked in the Viceroyalty kitchens, African cooks blended their own food culture with the Creole cuisine of the European Spaniards, as well as the indigenous Peruvians’ cuisine (which varied, depending on the region). Many of the recipes that comprise Peruvian cuisine today were created through this cultural fusion. Further, the African cooks found clever ways to use leftovers and less desirable cuts of meat. Tacu tacu is a perfect example of the ingenuity and creativity that Africans brought to Peruvian food culture. Their influence on the evolution of Peruvian cuisine cannot be overstated.

Peruvians generally still eat their main meal at midday, and have a very light meal for nighttime supper. Tacu tacu is a tasty way to use up leftovers: leftover rice and bean purée are combined, fried, and topped with an egg (which is soft, so that the runny yolk can break over the tacu tacu, and act as a rich sauce). Occasionally it is eaten as a fuller meal, with a breaded beef cutlet (see the full recipe for tacu tacu con apanado here); but usually, it is simply topped with a fried egg. It is sometimes eaten this way for breakfast as well.

 

Tacu Tacu
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
  • 1cup white rice,long grain
  • 2cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1Tbsp. butterunsalted
  • 1Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 15oz. canary / mayacoba / peruano beans,pre-cooked (see below)
  • 4oz. pork belly,small dice
  • 1/4cup ají amarillo paste
  • 1/2cup onion,minced
  • 3cloves garlicminced
  • 4large eggs
Instructions
Mise en Place
  1. Gather / measure all ingredients.
Tacu Tacu:
  1. Bring stock and butter to a boil; add the rice, cover, and reduce to low heat. Cook the rice for approximately 15 minutes, or until just tender. Fluff with fork, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the pork belly until golden and rendered. Do not drain fat from pan. Remove pork with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add olive oil to pan; when hot, add onion, and sauté for 4-5 minutes (until golden and caramelized, but still soft). If the onions become dry, do not add any more oil; add a bit of water.
  4. Add the garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Add the ají amarillo paste; sauté 1-2 more minutes. Add beans, and cook 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the pork back to the mixture. Crush the mixture with a large spoon to make a paste, then set aside to cool. When cool, add the rice, and mix well.
  6. Form patties; usually these are the size of a large oblong pancake. (If you like, you can make them the size of a risotto cake or crabcake.)
  7. Fry in about ¼” of oil. Take care in turning; use a fish spatula (with a second spatula if necessary), and gently flip. Remove from oil; place on plate in warming oven.
Garnish / Serving:
  1. Fry egg sunny-side up in remaining oil. Place egg on top of tacu tacu, and serve with salsa criolla on the side.
Recipe Notes

Follow your favorite recipe for cooking dry beans. You can also substitute 1 15-oz. can of cannellini or white northern beans, drained and rinsed, for the canary beans.

For a vegetarian version of tacu tacu, omit the pork belly and use vegetable stock for the rice.

For a vegan version, use vegan stock, and omit the pork belly, butter, and egg. Add olive oil to the rice, and fry with vegetable oil. Top with your favorite salsa, avocado slices, and / or a dash of ají amarillo paste.

This is the scratch version, but it is intended for leftover rice and beans of any kind. Just mash the beans, combine with rice, and follow the instructions above for frying. Feel free to experiment!

 

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.

Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

Seco de Pollo / Cilantro Chicken Stew

Seco de pollo is a very typical Peruvian entrée; it can be found in nearly every region of the country. “Dry chicken stew” is so named because the chicken is first fried (the “dry” part), then returned to the stew (the “wet” part). It is also because the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce – not dry, per se; but more so than a soup or many other stews.

It can be made with any meat (seco de res – beef; seco de cordero – lamb; seco de cerdo – pork; etc.). In the northern region, it is frequently made with goat or lamb; and is traditionally served with the corn tamales that are typical of that area. Wherever it is found, it is also accompanied by arroz a la peruana.

Estofado is similar to the seco dishes, except that it has tomato, paprika and only a little cilantro. I’ll include that recipe at a later date.

 

Seco de Pollo / Cilantro Chicken Stew
Servings Prep Time
4servings 20minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 20minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Ingredients
Browning chicken:
  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken thighs and legs(about 8 pieces)
  • 2tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil
Base:
  • 2Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 1large yellow onionsmall dice
  • 5cloves garlicminced
  • 1/2medium red bell pepperseeded, sliced thinly
  • 1/2medium green bell pepperseeded, sliced thinly
  • 1/2small ají amarillo, freshseeded, minced
  • 1/4cup ají amarillo paste
  • 1quart chicken stock(enough to cover)
Vegetables / Seasoning:
  • 4medium yellow potatoespeeled and quartered
  • 1cup green peasfresh or frozen (defrosted)
  • 1cup cilantro, chopped(plus sprigs for garnish)
  • Kosher salt(to taste)
  • black pepper, ground(to taste)
Instructions
Mise en Place:
  1. Gather / measure ingredients
Browning chicken:
  1. Combine salt, pepper and cumin; sprinkle onto both sides of chicken. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Brown the chicken, then remove from pan.
Base:
  1. Turn the heat down to medium; add the olive oil. Add the onion, and sauté 7-8 minutes (until golden). Add garlic; sauté 2-3 more minutes. Add green pepper, hot pepper and pepper paste; sauté 2-3 more minutes.
  2. Deglaze with chicken stock, scraping bottom of pot to release the fond. Add the chicken back to the pot. Add enough chicken stock to nearly cover the chicken. Turn up heat until liquid simmers.
  3. Add the potatoes and chicken. Cook for approximately 35-40 minutes (until chicken is very tender). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  4. Add peas, and cook for 2-3 minutes; then add cilantro. Cook for 1-2 more minutes only.
  5. Taste; add salt and pepper as desired (it may not need any) Garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve with arroz a la peruana.
Recipe Notes

The liquid reduces to a thin sauce consistency as it cooks. If you would like it to be thicker, remove the chicken and potatoes when done, then reduce sauce to desired consistency.

Take care when handling hot peppers! Always use gloves, and wash hands and cutting surfaces thoroughly afterwards.

This recipe traditionally adds diced carrots; I leave them out. If you would like to include them, add ½ cup diced raw carrots with the onions. (If using frozen pre-cooked carrots, add them with the peas.)

 

Copyright © http://www.lavidacomida.com.

Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

Pollo a la brasa / Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken

This was the first Peruvian dish I ever made… so it’s only fitting that it should be my first recipe post! We received a George Foreman rotisserie as a wedding present, and I used that thing until it fell apart. We found a brand new one on Craigslist last year, and we still use it today.

This dish is not an old Peruvian classic; in fact, it was created by Swiss hotelier Roger Schuler in Peru in the 1950s. It’s become a perennial favorite; and today, you will find this dish anywhere that Peruvian food is served. In fact, many Peruvian restaurants feature this dish – or serve it exclusively – and have huge charcoal-fired spits called rotombos to roast dozens of chickens at a time!

I’ll say right off that my version is not roasted in a rotumbo, and thus cannot have the same distinctive charcoal flavor. So it’s not 100% authentic. But it was developed based on my husband’s taste memory: Eduardo would taste each attempt, and say, “Close, but more cumin!” “Almost, but more salt!” – until he finally exclaimed, “That’s it!”

Pollo a la brasa can be made in the oven or rotisserie; I’ve included directions for each. But the only way to truly achieve the authentic flavor is by roasting it over charcoal.

 

Pollo a la brasa / charcoal-roasted chicken
Pollo a la brasa / Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 30minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Servings Prep Time
4 30minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 12oz. lager beer
  • 12oz. water
  • 2cups chicken stock
  • 1Tbsp. ají amarillo paste
  • 1packet Goya Sazon seasoning
  • 2tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2Tbsp. cumin
Rub
  • 1Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1Tbsp. Goya Sazon seasoning
  • 1Tbsp. Goya Adobo seasoning
  • 1tsp. black pepper
  • 1Tbsp. cumin
Instructions
Marinade:
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit chicken.
  2. Place chicken in bowl. Use a cover that will weigh down the chicken enough to submerge in marinade; otherwise, flip the chicken halfway through (if possible). Marinate the chicken 2-3 hours. One hour before cooking, remove chicken from liquid and pat skin dry. Place on rack, and allow to completely air-dry.
Rub:
  1. Sprinkle salt and white pepper inside chicken cavity. Rub skin with lime. Combine the rub ingredients. When the chicken is dry, truss it. Place on rotisserie skewer or roasting pan rack. Pat rub onto entire skin surface.
Roasting:
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F, or prepare rotisserie. Roast for 20 minutes per pound (160° F. internal temperature, where leg meets the body). If using oven, turn oven down to 350° F. after 15 minutes. Remove from oven / rotisserie; place on plate and rest for 15-20 minutes. Quarter chicken, and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh yellow potato French fries and trio of dipping sauces (traditionally, huacatay sauce, ají amarillo sauce, and fresh mayonnaise or aioli).

Use a lager beer – and make sure it’s good beer. I follow this rule of thumb: if I don’t want to drink it, I won’t put it in my food!

If using a rotisserie, make sure the chicken fits without hitting the element. You may find it useful to cut off the wing tips, so they don’t strike the element while the chicken rotates. (Tucking them really doesn’t work.)

The best way to mimic the rotombo flavor would be to use a charcoal grill fitted with a rotisserie (positioned several inches above the flame; the chicken should have a charcoal flavor, but not be charred. Try making it in a charcoal smoker (like the Weber Smoky Mountain “Bullet”) fitted with a rotisserie attachment, for a truly authentic flavor.

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