Lima Diaries: Aji de Gallina.

September 17, 2012

Chicken in a bread-thickened sauce served with boiled potatoes and rice.

Aji de Gallina

6 round rolls of french bread (it comes in rounds here the size of my hand)
3 cups of evaporated milk (whole milk is also acceptable)
2 chicken breasts
1-2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 large carrot, chopped in four pieces
1 stalk of celery, chopped in four pieces
1/4 leaf of leek
3 large orange aji peppers
1/2 red onion, chopped in large pieces
1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
6 potatoes
4 eggs
Coarse salt
(MSG omitted, ha)

Tear up the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and let it soak to soften.

Make deep slice marks in the chicken breasts (to facilitate flavor seepage and quicker cook time). Place chicken breasts, carrots, celery, and leek in a medium pot and cover 3/4 with water. Add the bouillon cubes and salt, and boil until chicken is cooked. The stock should be very concentrated and salty to ensure the chicken breasts are infused with flavor.

At the same time in another medium pot, boil the scrubbed potatoes and eggs together until the potatoes are soft. (These were Ruth’s instructions. Personally, I would cook the potatoes and eggs separately for better executed finished products.)

While chicken and potatoes are cooking, cut off the heads of the aji peppers and slice them in half lengthwise. Clean out the veins and seeds, and slice each half in half again. Fry off the peppers with the onions and garlic to eliminate some of the spiciness (beware of the spicy air that results!).

When the peppers are soft, place them in a blender (though I suspect a food processor would do better) with the onions and garlic along with a few spoonfuls of the simmering chicken stock. Puree until smooth. Slowly add large spoonfuls of the soaked bread to the blender and continue pureeing until the mixture is smooth, adding chicken stock as necessary.

When the chicken is cooked, remove to a plate. Discard the leek, and add the carrots and celery to blender mixture. Pour the puree into a large pot, thin with water if too thick, and season with salt as needed. Keep on the lowest heat.

Finely shred the chicken breasts and add to the puree mixture. Heat through and serve on top of half a boiled potato with a side of white rice (cooked with garlic paste) and a garnish of hard-boiled egg. And an ice cold glass of the limeade I wish I had when I consumed this delicious but heavy meal.

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