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Category: Peru (Page 2 of 2)

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 © https://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.

(6/2018 – If you’re interested in a great site about purchasing and using electric smokers, check out ElectricSmokerGuy.com! And if you try making this recipe in an electric smoker, please drop me a line and tell me how it turned out!)

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.

A Brief History of Peruvian Cuisine

The next several posts will be about Peru and Peruvian cuisine, since it’s closest to my heart (and mouth!). We will get to the recipes soon, I promise! But I thought I would be in remiss not to mention the rich cultural history that is behind this exciting cuisine.

Believe it or not, this is relatively brief overview of Peruvian food history! It would be impossible to cover the entire history of the Inca Empire, Spanish conquest and subsequent cultural development in a blog post (and not really relevant for our purposes!). I will, however, include links to websites that offer more in-depth explanations, for anyone who might be interested.

Peruvian cuisine is one of the most fascinating food cultures in the world. It is unmatched in both its diversity and individuality – in my humble opinion, anyway. It is a fusion of many different cultures; it retains unique elements of each, yet is a distinct cuisine all its own. Its main influences are the indigenous Inca peoples; the Spanish conquistadors; African slaves brought by the Spanish; and large waves of immigrants who became integral components of the cultural and culinary framework.

Peruvian Girls in Traditional Dress

Incas

The Inca Empire, at the time of the Spanish conquest, was a vast and complex civilization that – at its height extended into modern-day Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. This region was called Tahuantinsuyo, or “land of four regions.” The Tahuantinsuyos (the word “Inca” actually referred to the nation’s nobility, though we’ll use it because it’s familiar) were already a mixture of cultures and languages themselves, united through the conquests of emperor Pachacutec and his sons. After Pachacutec’s death, both brothers vied for power; as a result, the nation was greatly compromised by war between the two brothers’ factions. It is at this time that the Spaniards arrived; the weakened state of leadership, government, and army greatly contributed to the Incas’ downfall at the hands of the Spanish.

The indigenous peoples had a rich array of native foods, recipes and techniques when the colonizing Spanish arrived. Peru is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and a multitude of important native foods were consumed throughout the country:  notably the variety of peppers, hot and sweet, which are an essential ingredient in many Peruvian recipes. Peanuts and many tomato and bean varietals were also cultivated and widely consumed.

In addition to these universal ingredients, local cuisines were – and still are – highly dependent upon the geographic area and climate of each region. While it is important to note that there is a considerable overlap of foods in each region, there are three main climatic (and culinary) regions:

The Andes Mountains and Highlands

Purple Corn

The mountain regions had a highly developed system of farming, which included terrace farming and its complex irrigation systems. Many mountain crops grow only at specific altitudes; these ancient farmers knew which crops grew best at which altitude, and had elaborate planting and harvesting systems in place for each crop.

Corn was a highly-prized staple of Andean cuisine; there were a multitude of corn cakes and tamales, each serving a different meal or cultural purpose (i.e. some were for ritual celebrations, some for everyday meals, etc.). Chicha morada is a drink made from purple corn; and chicha de jora is a fermented corn beer which held great ceremonial importance in ancient Inca life.

They also cultivated hundreds of tuber varieties indigenous to the region, especially the incredible diversity of potatoes; but also sweet potatoes and unique tuber varieties such as the olluca. Quinoa, amaranth (kiwicha) and other ancient grains were important for nutrition and culinary variety. While the majority of the common folk ate little meat, the Incas did hunt fresh game such as venison (most often in the participation of ritual hunts). They also domesticated native animals, such as llama, alpaca, and cuy, or guinea pig, which they also sacrificed.

The Inca people developed advanced preparation and preservation methods such as freeze-drying; these enabled them to endure times of scarcity and difficult weather conditions. Chuños / papas secas (dried potatoes) are still a staple, and a main ingredient in the stew carapulcra. The Incas also dried meat and freshwater fish; in fact, charqui (jerky) is one of the few Andean foods and Quechua words that have been adopted worldwide. Pachamanca is a huge celebration meal that is cooked in an earthen pit with hot stones. Native plants such as huacatay, a native herb related to marigold, and hot peppers, seasoned and flavored their foods.

Tropical / Amazon Basin

This region grows vast quantity of tropical fruits, many of which are not often found outside of Peru; they include camu camu, lucuma, cherimoya, and guanabana. Also found are yucca, yam, guava, passion fruit, granadilla, and avocado. The Amazon River provides an abundance of fish and wildlife. Wild pig and other jungle animals are hunted.

The Coast

Fish and seafood are obvious staples. Ceviche – raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice – is a regional delicacy; each area has its own version. Waterfowl such as duck was also common.

There are two subdivisions of the coastal regions:

The Northern Coast is extremely hot, with a desert savanna climate. In addition to an abundance of fish and seafood, Chicha de jora (corn beer) is used in cooking more frequently here. Also, maize tamales are more common, whereas corn tamales are made in Lima and the southern portion of the country. Goat and lamb, particularly in stews (secos), are common entrées in this region.

Lima and the Central / Southern Coast has a subtropical / desert climate. Once home to the Viceroyalty, Lima is now considered the gastronomic center of Peru, if not all of South America. The sheer number and variety of Peruvian restaurants is extraordinary. 

Spanish Conquest

When Francisco Pizarro and the Spaniards arrived in Peru in 1532, they not only found a state weakened by civil war; but they also brought smallpox and other epidemics, which wiped out somewhere between 60% to over 90% of the Inca population by the end of the 16th century… leaving few people to fight or to be conquered. The Spanish used the remaining Inca as slaves – frequently working them to death – and suppressed their culture and traditions to the point that few Inca artifacts or history remain. They also brought their own blended culture’s cuisine, which consisted of European and Moorish recipes, ingredients, and methods.

Aside from pestilence and oppression, the Spanish brought European classical cuisine and ingredients including: onions and garlic; cumin, cilantro and parsley; and fruit trees (especially grape, olive, citrus, apple, peach, and pear). They also brought domesticated livestock, such as chicken, cows, rabbit, goats and sheep. The Spanish contributed significant agricultural staples such as rice and wheat. The Spaniards’ contribution of sugar cane transformed Peru into a sweet-loving culture in a very short period of time.

Mestizo Cuisine

The Inca intermarried with the Spanish over many generations; and their descendants came to be called mestizo (mixed). This created a lower-middle class that took many generations to develop. This process began on the culinary level as well, as the two food cultures began to blend together along with the families. Over many generations, the two cuisines became intermingled, recipes marrying ingredients and techniques became commonplace; and the foundation of modern Peruvian cuisine was created. Criollo (Creole) literally means locally-born people of foreign descent; but the term came to describe Peruvian cuisine itself: the marriage of Spanish colonial cuisine with the foods and food culture of the indigenous Inca groups.

Immigrant Waves

Peruvian cuisine was later influenced by large immigrant population waves. The Spaniards brought African slaves as obviously unwilling immigrants. They contributed many culinary techniques and ingredients, often borne out of necessity (i.e. being forced to use less appealing cuts of meat, leftovers, etc.). They contributed African methods, particularly frying foods in oil; and made a significant contribution to the cuisine. A few notable recipes include anticuchos and tacu tacu. Also, as servants in the Viceroyalty’s kitchens, they helped transform Peru into a sweet-loving culture: they imbued Spanish desserts with African undertones. Picarones and turrón de Doña Pepa are a few examples.

Peru formally declared its independence on July 28, 1821. In 1872, the Peruvian government created the Sociedad de Inmigración Europea (“European Immigration Society”); it offered financial support to Europeans looking to emigrate to Peru. Many immigrants – most notably Italians, Germans, and French – soon arrived. Classical French cuisine and Italian ingredients (especially pasta) were readily incorporated into the food culture. Many settled in isolated communities in mountain valleys and lowlands; Italian and German enclaves in the mountain valleys and Amazon basin still exist today, and strive to maintain their ethnic heritage. (My husband is himself a descendant of the Tremolada family of Junín province, and he is one-quarter Milanese!)

Chinese immigrants arrived to build the railroads in the 1800s, and contributed tremendously to Peruvian food culture. Chifa – Chinese-Peruvian cuisine – blends traditional Chinese with native Peruvian ingredients. Peruvian cooks began to integrate Chinese ingredients into their meals; ginger, soy sauce, and scallions can be found in many Peruvian recipes. Chifa is quite different from Chinese-American cuisine – which has been altered to suit American tastes, and is not generally consumed by Chinese people (either in the U.S. or in China). It is a unique cuisine onto itself.  Lima and the larger cities hold the greatest concentration of Chinese immigrants, and consequently the greatest number of chifa restaurants.

Last – but certainly not least – the Japanese made their mark on the cuisine. Peru established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1873; emigration to Peru began soon afterwards. Today, Peru is home to over 1.5 million Japanese-Peruvians. (Former President Fujimori and his presidential-candidate daughter Keiko are notable, if dubious, Japanese-Peruvians.) Partly through the expertise of sushi chefs, ceviche – a traditional Peruvian dish of fish macerated in citrus juice – has been elevated to an art form in the haute cuisine kitchens of Lima. Tiradito – a sashimi-inspired dish similar to ceviche – was the result of Japanese influence.

The cuisines of the Inca, Spanish, Africans, Europeans, Chinese, and Japanese have been seamlessly incorporated into one unified Peruvian food culture. Spaniards’ own mélange of cultures, as well as the multitude of microcultures that made up the Inca people, may have set the stage for an attitude of culinary acceptance that might not have been possible elsewhere. The result is Peruvian Cuisine: an exciting, vibrant, eclectic mix of cultures, ingredients and recipes that continues to evolve today.

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