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Troble

Aji de Gallina

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This is a non-KK cook, however I was asked to post this recipe so figured this was the best spot. Aji de Gallina is a very traditional Peruvian dish that I like to say is simply a "Peruvian Chicken Curry". It also happens to be my wife's favorite dish and she is from Peru so i have taken a keen interest in learning how to cook it well over the 12 years that we have been together. Here is some info on it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ají_de_gallina

I've used a variety of different recipes over the years but when we went to Peru back in 2014 I picked up this book "The Art of Peruvian Cuisine" by Tony Custer and it is really a masterpiece of a book. https://www.amazon.com/Art-Peruvian-Cuisine-Vol/dp/9972920305

Volume I is traditional food, Volume 2 is Peruvian fusion. I've pretty much settled on a recipe that is very similar to the recipe found in the Art of Peruvian Cuisine Vol. 1

I have cooked this dish a lot and I will say that both my mother and law and father in law take to go tupperware's of this dish when they come over and they tell me that I make the best Aji de Gallina in the family (including the family that still lives in Peru) and that they can't find a better version where they live in LA so i'm super confident that if you follow this recipe it will turn out good. it's pretty simple to make.

Boil 4-5 chicken breasts in water (sometimes i do 4 sometimes I do 5 however many come in the bulk package I buy)

Place whole loaf of white bread in blender along with 1-2 cups of walnuts (today I used a whole package which is closer to 2 cups, no noticeable difference)

Use water from boiling chicken to blend with white bread and walnuts

Cook one whole red onion in pan for 5 minutes, season generously with oregano & cumin, add garlic (i used one entire head of garlic but I like a lot of garlic, maybe start with 1/2 a head and see how you like it, but i double the garlic amounts on every recipe I encounter)

This is the only tricky part......add 2 tablespoons of Aji Amarillo paste. I've done 3 tablespoons and it's a bit too spicy, i like it hot and 2 is the right amount, if you don't like it super hot go with 1 tablespoon, the Aji Amarillo paste is super spicy be careful with that ingredient.

Sautee in pan until ready

Add mixture from blender stir

Add one cup of chicken stock (don't cheap out, get some good stock you will taste the difference)

Add one can of Evaportated milk

Pound out chicken breasts until they are stringy, add each breast in one at a time and stir continuously

this is where the secret trick comes in. I like to take a Aji Amarillo (canned is all i have) and slice it up and add it to the sauce. I really think this gives it a nice depth of flavor without it being too spicy. i only use 1, I've used 2 before and they are too spicy so be careful but if you can source canned Aji Amarillo get them they are fantastic ingredients. I am trying to grow them at my house this year as I think that's the only different between my food and Peru right now if that I don't have access to fresh Aji Amarillo. Make sure you deseed the Aji Amarillo as the seeds are super super spicy

Once thoroughly mixed add parmesean cheese. Mix.  I also like to add a bit of salt here at the end when I am done and then I let it simmer for 15-30 minutes.

Serve with White Rice. Traditionally it's served with a hard boiled egg, but I never do that. We just at it with rice and I make it look pretty for the picture then we mix it all up.

The dish will be even better the next day as the flavors settle overnight so I typically make this size of a batch and we eat it for 2-3 days.

@jonj @tony b @MacKenzie @tekobo @Tyrus @Basher - you should have a bottle of Aji Amarillo paste in the package I sent you so this is in your wheeelhouse should you desire. It's a simple, easy but super tasty dish. I hope you enjoy it.

 

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Edited by Troble
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Great Troble, nice description. I do appreciate a bit of heat nowadays in my food although it took many years of adjustment and tolerance to break the pepper barrier. Coming from northern european ancestry the diet was simpler and tamer, luckily we've turned the corner. That pepper looks like a familiar foe of mine, the Habanero....I'll wear gloves, eye protection and a mask..........unfortunately it's all genetics with this hot stuff.  I can eat horseradish by the tablespoon and woudn't blink an eye, we'll exercise the caution and follow your warning

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Thanks, I'm definitely going to try this soon (need to do my Al Pastor first!)

One quick question - how much of the boiled chicken water do you add to the blender with the bread and walnuts? The consistency in the picture of the blender looks pretty thick. 

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Good question @tony b I generally just fill it till it’s full because usually a full load of bread blocks a lot of water absorption, that being said I have made that sauce “too thin” by adding too much water so I generally fill it, blend it, mash it and I’ll add a bit more water if necessary. You want it thick out of the blender because you still have to add 1 cup of chicken broth and a whole can of evaporated milk. So it will thin out when you add to it 

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Posted (edited)

I should also add that the book recipe calls for a mirepoix mix in the boiled chicken water. I did that the first few times then decided it was a waste and I haven’t cooked it with a mirepoix boil in 11 years. I should probably try it again sometime but if just seemed like a complete waste of vegetables with little difference in flavor IMO

Edited by Troble
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Posted (edited)

@tony byes perhaps I just never notice any difference in the chicken flavor but like I said I gave it up a long time ago and should probably try it again 

also to answer your earlier question that recipe in the book says 1 cup of cooking liquid. It also says 3 slices of bread and I use an entire loaf so.....

Edited by Troble
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To me, a recipe is merely guidance, not sacrosanct. I've read so many of them over the years that I can see from the list of ingredients and some of the preps what it should taste like and then start making my own tweaks to it to suit my tastes. If I'm venturing into unknown territory for the first time, I'll stick pretty close to the recipe, but that's about the only time.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, tony b said:

To me, a recipe is merely guidance, not sacrosanct. I've read so many of them over the years that I can see from the list of ingredients and some of the preps what it should taste like and then start making my own tweaks to it to suit my tastes. If I'm venturing into unknown territory for the first time, I'll stick pretty close to the recipe, but that's about the only time.

Agree 100%. I use recipe for ingredient lists and guidance but usually season to my taste likings. Specially I always use way more garlic and more cumin than my recipes call for 

Edited by Troble
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