Peruvian Chicken
in Walnut-and-Pepper Sauce

(Aji de Pollo)

Makes 6 servings


Aji is a particular chile grown in Peru. There are several different kinds, and they can be found fresh in this country in Peruvian markets and pickled in jars in grocery stores specializing in Spanish ingredients. If they're not available, substitute red Fresno chiles or jalapeños. Like Papas a la Huancaina (page 141 in the actual cookbook), there are many versions of this spicy chicken dish, depending on where you are in Peru. Perhaps the most well known are from Callao and Chiclayo.

The sauce for this dish is thickened with ground walnuts, bread crumbs softened in evaporated milk, and grated Parmesan cheese. Once the shredded chicken is added, it's spooned over sliced cooked potatoes, for a warming, hearty dish.

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup evaporated milk
2-1/2 pounds chicken parts, such as drumsticks, thighs, and breasts
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or other boiling potato, with skins on
6 fresh aji chiles, red Fresno chiles, or other red chiles, cored and seeded
1 tomato, cored and chopped
I tablespoon vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 pound walnuts, ground
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the evaporated milk.

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken parts and chicken broth, adding water if needed to cover chicken. Cover pan and bring broth to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Remove chicken from liquid and let cool slightly. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 25 minutes. Then drain.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken and discard them. Shred meat into 1-1/2 x 1/4-inch pieces. With a fork, mash the softened bread crumbs in the milk. In a small food processor or blender, purée together the chiles and tomato.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in the bread crumb mixture, then the chile mixture until well blended. Stir in the ground walnuts. Add the salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on bottom of pot. Add the shredded chicken and 1/2 cup of its reserved cooking liquid, the orange juice, and the Parmesan. Heat through, stirring. Keep warm.

Drain the potatoes. Slice and arrange on a platter. Pour the hot chicken mixture over top, and serve.

Buy the Book!

Home Cooking Around The World:
A Recipe Collection
By David Ricketts
Photographs by Mark Thomas
Published in October 2001 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Hardcover, $35
208 Pages / 80 recipes
ISBN: 1-58479-092-X
Recipe reprinted by permission.


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