Peru is still quite a traditional place where family is at the center of daily life. Every Friday, my husband's family gets together at my mother-in-law's house for a three-course meal prepared by the family matriarch, Nelly. After all, what brings people together better or more closely than a delicious, home-cooked meal? Her mouth-watering ají de gallina, a spicy chicken stew, is just about as close to soul food as I've tasted while living in Lima. Fortunately for you all, she's been generous enough to share her secret recipe.
Ají de gallina - Spicy Chicken Stew
Place chicken breast with skin, carrot, celery stalk, laurel leaf and 1/2 onion in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat until chicken is fully cooked. Strain broth and place chicken breast back into the stock until it cools. Once cooled, shred chicken and set aside.
In a small pot, bring mirasol chilies to a boil and then remove from heat. Separate the skin from the chilies and put the chilies in a blender with seedless yellow chili pepper and vegetable oil. Blend until smooth and set aside.
Remove crusts from bread slices and soak bread in evaporated milk until they begin to come apart.
In a saucepan, sauté 1 chopped onion and garlic cloves until the onions are transparent. Add blended chili sauce, salt and pepper to taste, cumin and oregano and let simmer until there is a thin layer of oil covering the mixture. Add chicken stock. Add bread, condensed milk and walnuts and stir over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick.
Add shredded chicken and Parmesan cheese.
Serve with rice and garnish with 1/2 hard boiled egg and 1 olive.
If you're interested in trying as many authentically Peruvian dishes as you can while in Lima, check out our food tour.
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