Mastering Peruvian 101

Last weekend was another brilliant themed cooking dinner party! To tell the truth, when the theme of Peruvian food first came up, I was a bit skeptical because I was unfamiliar with the cuisine. As I looked online for recipes to make, I saw a lot of seafood recipes. I love seafood, but I don’t have a lot of experience with it. When the website piscotrail.com was shared with the group, it opened up a new world. The writer, Nico is a Peruvian native who resides in San Francisco. Peruvian food consists of a fusion of various cultures including Inca, Spanish, African, and Chinese. I had no idea that pisco, the alcohol used in many cocktails originated in Peru.  

So when the Italians immigrated to Peru, they brought a dish called Tallarin con Pollo (chicken and pasta) and this is Nico’s grandma’s recipe and the one I chose to make last weekend.
Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs skin and bone in
  • 16 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • bay leaf
  • cinnamon stick
  • salt, pepper, cumin, oregano
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb angel hair pasta

Instructions

Season the chicken thighs thoroughly with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat approximately 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When heated, place the chicken skin side down until golden brown for about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken onto a plate.   

Using the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic. Season with salt (1/2 tsp) , pepper (1/4 tsp), cumin (1/4 tsp), and oregano (1/2 tsp). Add the chopped carrot, red pepper, and celery, and continue to sauté until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. 

In a blender, puree a 16 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes. Add the sautéed vegetables and blend until smooth.   

Dump the purée back into the pan with 3 cups of chicken stock. Heat until it boils and place the chicken back in to pan with a bay leaf and a cinnamon stick.   

Cover the pan and reduce to a slow simmer and cook for thirty minutes. During the last ten minutes, cook the pasta. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cook the pasta. Angel hair pasta only takes five minutes cooking time. Drain the pasta.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan. Mix in the parmesan cheese to the sauce to thicken it and remove from heat. Blend the cooked pasta to the sauce. Plate the pasta and the chicken on top and garnish with more parmesan cheese.

I enjoyed my dish because the sauce was light and flavorful, the chicken was tender, and overall comforting and easy enough of a dish to cook again. The hardest part was all the chopping prep beforehand. It was also a good balance with all the other dishes that evening. My fellow cooks did an amazing job and here’s a look at some of the wonderful Peruvian dishes we gorged on. Many of the recipes can be found at piscotrail.com.  

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