la vida comida

food. life.

Tag: Peruvian recipe (page 1 of 2)

Manjar Blanco 2016 Redux

Hello again, after (another) long hiatus! I have been so thrilled to watch Peruvian cuisine gain attention and interest over the last year. I always knew that once the creativity, simple elegance, and intriguing combination of history and fusion behind this fabulous cuisine came to light, the world couldn’t help but stand up and take note!

Today, I’m revisiting manjar blanco, one of my all-time favorite sweets. (Click here for my original post.) It is ubiquitous in Latin America (and especially popular in Argentina and Peru): each country and region has its own name and variation – dulce de leche, arequipa, etc. It can be made with goat’s milk (as in Mexican cajeta), or coconut milk; but most versions are made with cow’s milk.

Manjar blanco is a culinary workhorse. Cook it a little less, and it becomes a rich sauce to drizzle over ice cream, crêpes, or any favorite dessert. Reduce it longer, and it can be piped into alfajores; spread in a pionono (a Peruvian jelly roll); or formed into tejas, a Peruvian truffle confection. It is also the base for suspiro de limeña, one of the most heavenly desserts on earth.

More about suspiro another time. But here’s a teaser.  😉

Manjar blanco can be a little tricky. The main issue I’ve had is occasional graininess, especially after a day or two (refrigerated or not).  Any suggestions?

I’ve seen some fresh milk recipes floating around. The ones that look more reliable advocate for four parts milk to one part sugar, by volume; high heat to boil quickly, then very low heat (and constant attention) for several hours. I did try this once. Frankly, I don’t have an entire day to devote to making condensed milk – THEN turning it into manjar blanco – when that hard work has already been done for me. (I know, all-natural, homemade, no shortcuts, etc. etc…. but I’m picking my battles here. I mean, we are making milk candy, not an organic salad, people!  🙂  That said, I’d like to make fresh goat’s milk cajeta sometime.) If you have had success with this method before, though, will you please share your results? Maybe I’ll change my tune.

Just say no to microwave manjar blanco. That’s all I’m saying.

Anyway… I generally make manjar blanco two ways. My favorite is my usual, tried-and-true method: slow-cooking condensed and evaporated milks. Every once in awhile, I’ll cook it in the unopened can (in other words, under presssure). I haven’t yet tried to make it in an actual pressure cooker – I’m fatally clumsy, and not fond of explosions. But this looks like a good recipe; I may try it sometime, if I’m ever feeling adventurous.

(An aside: Want some cool info about food science, the Maillard reaction, and dulce de leche? Click here, and here.)

Manjar blanco cooked in the can is smooth and perfect. It has little to no separated milk solids, and is completely slick and shiny. Also, there is practically no work involved: I simply make sure the water level stays high. It’s relatively thin, which makes it great as a dessert sauce. While the caramel flavor is good, it’s fairly neutral to me. And it looks a little too perfect, even store-bought.

Manjar blanco cooked in a pot requires much more care. You have to stir frequently, and watch for scorching. It does generally have some milk solid and caramel specks in it, so it’s not as smooth-looking as can-cooked manjar blanco; but I find this does not affect the texture or mouth-feel. I personally greatly prefer it. You can reduce it to the consistency you want; and it has that deep caramel flavor, that butterscotch fragrance… it’s just ambrosial.

Here, you can see the difference:

Left: manjar blanco cooked in the pot. 

Center: manjar blanco cooked in the can.

Right: caramel-flavored condensed milk, cooked in the can. (The fake caramel flavor was so gross – not even worth mentioning.)

I haven’t really changed my original manjar blanco recipe; I’ve just added some more cooking details and a few helpful tips. Experiment, and let me know which works best for you!

Buen provecho!

 

Manjar Blanco in a Can
This is the simplest way to have smooth, delicious manjar blanco - without all the stirring or mess. It does take hours - and it's not as thick or rich as manjar blanco cooked in a pot - but the only thing you need to do is keep the can covered with water. Doesn't get any easier!
Servings Prep Time
1can 5minutes
Cook Time
2hours
Servings Prep Time
1can 5minutes
Cook Time
2hours
Ingredients
  • 1can condensed milk(14 oz.)
Instructions
  1. Remove label from can. Place can, on its side, in the bottom of a very tall aluminum stock pot.
  2. Fill the pot almost to the top with room-temperature water. Place the lid tightly on the pot.
  3. Place the pot on the stove over very high heat until the water just boils.
  4. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Simmer gently for approximately 2 ½ hours (2 for lighter color; 3 for darker).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, and remove the lid. Do not drain the water or remove the can.
  6. Place pot in the sink; run room-temperature (not cold) water into the pot, and gradually allow the can to come to room temperature.
  7. Do not remove the can from the pot, or handle or open the can, until it is completely cool.
  8. Let rest overnight before opening, if possible.
Recipe Notes

The can must be completely smooth, with no dents; otherwise, the can could explode.

It is extremely important to make sure the water never runs low. If the water is allowed to evaporate to the point that the can is exposed to air and not completely submerged, the change in temperature / pressure may cause the can to explode.

The can must always be covered with at least 2” of water; so it’s best to simply keep the pot filled. Be sure to check the water level at least every 15-20 minutes (set a timer!), and add hot water whenever necessary (it’s helpful to have a hot pot of water at the ready, and ladle in extra water as needed). Keeping a tight lid on the pot will help prevent evaporation.

Manjar Blanco 2016
Manjar blanco - milk caramel - can be a decadent spread for Belgian waffles, a filling for cookies or cake, a rich fruit dip... or just eat it, one huge spoonful at a time. It is well worth the effort and time - which you can spend collecting all the foods you want to put it on! The yield is determined by how much you reduce it.
Servings Prep Time
1 pint (approx.) 5 minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Servings Prep Time
1 pint (approx.) 5 minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Ingredients
  • 1can condensed milk(14 oz.)
  • 1can evaporated milk(12 oz.)
  • 1/8tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. Combine 1 Tbsp. of the evaporated milk with the baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Place remaining milks and salt in a very tall aluminum pot. Pot should be at least 6-8 times as tall as the milk in the pot. Stir to combine.
  3. Quickly bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir the baking soda into the mixture very quickly with a long wooden spoon. Be careful - it will immediately foam up a great deal.
  5. Immediately turn heat down to very low, still stirring constantly.
  6. Once the mixture stops foaming and is very lightly simmering, stir very frequently (every few minutes), for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on desired degree of caramelization and thickness).
  7. When manjar blanco holds its shape for 2-3 seconds when stirred, it can be removed from heat. (Continue to reduce for thicker / more caramelized manjar blanco.)
  8. Pour into a completely clean stainless steel bowl (use the cleanest side of the pot to pour). Do not scrape bottom or sides into bowl (scrape it into a separate bowl, if you don’t want to waste it).
  9. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a container with an airtight lid.
Recipe Notes

Manjar blanco keeps for 3-4 days at room temperature, and longer than a week in the refrigerator. (However, it is more likely to re-crystallize and become grainy if refrigerated.)

Pimientos o Rocotos Rellenos / Peruvian Stuffed Peppers

I’ve never liked American stuffed peppers. The flavorless pepper, tinny meatloaf filling, and powdered cheese topping always made me think of a decrepit diner’s Monday night leftover special.

But these Peruvian stuffed peppers are vastly different. This recipe is based on Tony Custer’s, from The Art of Peruvian Cuisine; but I’ve altered it quite a bit, through trial and error. I use diced meat (over ground), and macerate the raisins in pisco. The peppers are par-cooked; this not only makes them fork-tender, but also allows the filling’s flavors to permeate the pepper during the baking process. The hot pepper’s fruity heat, combined with the sweetness of the pisco and raisins, create a rich meat filling that far surpasses its American Hamburger Helper counterpart – almost reminiscent of a cream-less moussaka. The Crema de Rocoto – which I’ve also altered by using pisco instead of wine – is a perfect complement. After all, what isn’t better with pisco?

I’ve used bell peppers here, rather than the traditional rocoto – the fiery red Peruvian pepper – which are very difficult to find fresh here in the U.S. You can use canned whole rocoto, if you can find it at your local Latin market; or use poblano, if you prefer. Rocotos are a little smaller than bell peppers; rocotos rellenos are sometimes used as an appetizer.

There are several steps (prepping the peppers and filling, stuffing, and baking); but the beauty of this dish is that you can make the filling (and even the peppers) a day ahead, chill, then stuff and bake the next day. I assure you that it’s worth the effort!

Pimientos o Rocotos Rellenos / Peruvian Stuffed Peppers
Servings Prep Time
4servings 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 1hour
Servings Prep Time
4servings 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 1hour
Ingredients
Peppers
  • 4medium bell peppers(or 8 rocoto peppers)
  • 4quarts water (2 times)
  • ¼cup sugar (2 times)
  • ¼cup apple cider vinegar (2 times)
  • ½tsp. kosher salt (2 times)
Meat
  • ¼cup vegetable oil
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1tsp. black pepper
  • 1tsp. ground cumin
  • 1pound beef, bottom round, visible fat trimmed, small dice
  • 1pound pork loin, visible fat trimmed, small dice
Filling
  • 1large red onion, small dice
  • 5cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2medium plum tomatoes, small dice
  • cup tomato paste
  • ¼cup ají panca paste  
  • 2Tbsp. ají rocoto paste (*see below)    
  • 10each olives, Peruvian or kalamata, small dice  
  • 3each hard-boiled eggs, small dice  
  • ¼tsp. kosher salt (to taste)
  • ¼tsp. black pepper (to taste)
  • ¼tsp. ground cumin (to taste)
  • 3oz. raisins (2 small boxes)
  • ½cup pisco (as needed)
  • 8oz. cheese, shredded or crumbled (mozzarella, queso fresco, etc.)
Instructions
Eggs and Peppers
  1. Hard-boil the eggs in advance; shock in cold water, then dice when cool.  Cut the tops off the peppers, and reserve. Scoop out the seeds and veins; discard.
  2. If using rocoto or other hot pepper: heat water, sugar (1) and vinegar (1) to boiling; add peppers, and parboil for about 3-4 minutes. Change the water, then repeat the process once more, and boil for about 2 minutes. (This process will reduce both the heat and the bitterness of the pepper, while partially cooking the peppers so that they will be more tender after baking.) Remove the peppers and immediately shock them in ice water (or under cold running water) until cool. Drain upside down on paper towels or a wire rack.
  3. If using bell peppers: boil the water with the sugar and vinegar as above; but cook for only about 5 minutes / until just slightly tender. Do not change water. Remove; cool and drain as above.
Meat
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the meat; season with 1 tsp. each of salt, black pepper, and cumin. Mix well.
  3. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large sauté pan; add the meat, and sauté until browned. Remove using a slotted spoon and reserve.
Filling
  1. If the pan is very dry, add 2 Tbsp. more vegetable oil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add onion, and sauté for 6-7 minutes (until very soft and golden).
  3. (After this point, avoid adding extra oil, if the mix is too dry; the filling will become greasy. Add a splash of water when needed.)
  4. Add garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add tomato; sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add tomato and pepper pastes; cook until darkened to a brick color, and the mix has a strong tomato aroma (3-4 minutes).
  7. Drain the raisins, but do not discard the pisco.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the pisco; when the alcohol scent evaporates (2-3 minutes), add the raisins, and mix well.
  9. Add the meat and mix well. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely.
Stuffing Peppers / Baking
  1. When both peppers and filling are cool, place peppers in a Pyrex dish. Stuff the peppers; pack firmly, but take care not to rip the peppers. Leave a small space on top for the cheese.
  2. Place a layer of cheese on top of the filling; press firmly, so the cheese is level with the top of the pepper.
  3. Place the reserved pepper top on the cheese as a lid. Cover with foil; “tent” the top, so the foil does not touch the peppers.
  4. Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes / until the internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  5. (Optional) Remove the foil; broil for 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese (watch closely).
  6. Remove from oven; serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Pepper Tips

* When working with rocoto (or any hot pepper), be sure to wear disposable gloves. Use a separate cutting board and knife, and wash them separately from your other dishes. Pepper oils remain on the skin, even after washing; and if you touch your eyes or sensitive mucous membranes – well, let’s just say you won’t forget to wear gloves the second time around. Especially if you wear contacts. (Think pepper spray.) Trust me on this one.

* If using rocoto peppers, do not add rocoto paste to the mix (unless you are a suicide wing alumnus, or have a breakup revenge meal planned).

Variations

If you wish to omit the alcohol, use half white grape juice and half water (with a touch of apple cider vinegar) to macerate the raisins.

You can substitute ground beef; but it will render out more fat. If so, ladle out all but about ¼ cup before sautéing the onions.

You can use mozzarella; Peruvian quesillo; or Mexican quest fresco - whichever you prefer.

For a vegetarian meal: omit the egg; and use your favorite ground meat substitute. Follow the recipe the same way, except brown the meat substitute only lightly; and add ¼ cup vegetable oil before sautéing the onions. (The baking time may also be shortened; check the temperature frequently.) Either omit the cheese topping, or add your own favorite cheese substitute. This looks like a good vegan queso fresco recipe! (I'd add it after baking, though.)

Chicharrón Peruano / Peruvian Braised and Fried Pork

Chicharrón (or chicharrones) is one of those ubiquitous Latin American foods: each country has its own version. Chicharrones originated in Andalucía, Spain, and thus are eaten in most Spanish-speaking countries; though many regional names and adaptations exist. Chicharrones are traditionally crispy fried cuts of pork; but meats and condiments vary by country.

In Peru, chicharrón is meat that has been boiled until the liquid evaporates and most of the fat renders out, at which point the meat fries in its own fat (basically a confit). Because of the fat content, the meat is almost always pork; but it can be made with beef, chicken or even fish (with some cooking modifications). The pork is usually boneless picnic shoulder or pork butt, cut into large chunks; but sometimes (in pricier eateries) chicharrones are made with pork ribs.

Frequently, chicharrones are made the previous night, then enjoyed for breakfast. Chicharrones can also be eaten as an appetizer or snack. When traveling between the coastal beaches and Lima proper, savvy tourists stop at the town of Lurin, where the street vendors and restaurants are famous for their huge chicharrón sandwiches – thick, crusty rolls stuffed with fried pork, sweet potato, and fresh salsa criolla, the mild onions bursting with the flavor of tangy Peruvian lime juice.

Here, I’ve made chicharrones with baby back ribs – it’s a convenient way to eat them, plus the bones add a rich flavor to the meat. Cueritos (lightly-fried pork rinds, eaten as a snack) are marinated in vinegar. My version combines the cueritos marinade with the confit technique – with very successful results, I think.

 

Chicharrón Peruano / Peruvian Braised and Fried Pork
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 1hour
Cook Time
2hours
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 1hour
Cook Time
2hours
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 to 3pounds baby back pork ribs              
  • 3quarts water(enough to cover pork)
  • 1Tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper, ground
  • 1Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1Tbsp. cumin, ground
  • 1Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 2cloves garlicsmashed
Instructions
Mise en Place:
  1. Gather / measure all ingredients.
Rub:
  1. Combine salt, pepper, cumin, salt, garlic and vinegar to create a rub. Apply rub to ribs; marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Braising:
  1. Place ribs in a heavy-bottomed pot; fill with just enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil; then simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add more water, if necessary.
Frying:
  1. Remove cover; allow water to evaporate. Pork will begin to begin to fry in its own fat. Fry until ribs are crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Serve:
  1. With fried sweet potato rounds and salsa criollo. Also, if desired, place pork, sweet potato, and salsa on a bun for an amazing chicharrón sandwich.

 

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida

Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

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.

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.

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