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.)

 

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Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.