Aji de Gallina: spicy Peruvian chicken stew

This recipe is all about making a little bit of food stretch a long way… if I make it using only one chicken breast, it still lasts me at least 4 days! It also works great with that chicken you froze to use later. Like many Peruvian dishes, it is served with both rice and boiled potato, and a boiled egg on the side. It is one of those dishes that I usually make without measuring out ingredients, but I’ve tried to at least come up with some rough guidelines you can follow! Remember that the potatoes take some time to boil, so you’ll want to get that started at the beginning of the cooking process. But on to the stew:

First you will want to create a chicken stock, while simultaneously cooking the chicken for your meal. Put the chicken in a medium saucepan and add water until it is just covered. If you are cooking for a family of 4, I would suggest using at least 2 chicken breasts (here I was cooking for my lonesome, so 1 was more than enough!). Add carrot, a few bay leaves, green onion tops, and some salt and pepper. (You can also add 1/2 stalk of celery, I just didn’t have any around). Depending on how spicy you like it, you can add some kind of dried pepper (usually they label how mild/spicy they are on the package) or a dash of chili flakes.

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Boil until your chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves, carrot, and green onion. Put the chicken aside on a plate. Add a piece of old, dry gluten free bread or toast. This was the perfect way to use my failed homemade buns that turned out way to dry and crumbly. If you don’t have any stale bread laying around, you can replace it with cornstarch- this is the thickening agent for your sauce.dscn0978

Allow the bread to soak until soft. In the meantime, shred the chicken. Traditionally there are no vegetables in this recipe, but my mother always snuck some in, and I’m a product of my mother, so I also chopped up some carrots and zucchini. Now is also a good time to get that rice started. dscn0979

Heat some oil in a pan, add some chopped up chili if you want more spice (traditionally, Aji amarillo, the Peruvian Yellow chili pepper, is used in this recipe, and will give it the most authentic taste. Unfortunately its not available in Sweden, so I used a thai chili instead). Dissolve some turmeric in the oil- this gives the sauce its signature yellow color. Remove the chili from your stock, add the oil mixture, some lactose free cream or milk, and blend into a smooth sauce. dscn0983

Return the pot to a medium heat and add the shredded chicken and vegetables. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft. In the meantime, you can boil up those eggs!

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This meal tastes even better the second day, so make enough for leftovers!


Aji de Gallina Recipe
(serves 4-6; serve together with boiled potatoes, white rice, and boiled eggs)

Ingredients:
2 Chicken breast
(optional)dried chili/chili flakes
3 bay leaves
green onion tops (only tops!)
1 medium carrot
1/2 stalk celery
1 dried gluten free bread roll/toast or 1-2 tbsp cornstarch
oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
(optional) fresh hot chili (preferably aji amarillo)
approx. 1 cup lactose-free milk or cream
(optional) 2 medium carrots
(optional) 1/2 medium-large zucchini

Instructions:
1) In a medium saucepan, add water so that chicken breasts are just covered. Boil together with bay leaves, onion tops, 1 carrot, celery, salt and pepper, and dried chili or chili flakes according to preferred spice level. Boil until chicken is cooked through (meat is completely white/opaque).
2) Remove from heat. Set aside chicken and throw out the vegetables/spices used for flavoring. Put in a dried bread roll (gluten free/fodmap safe) and allow to soak until soft. If using cornstarch instead, first whisk the cornstarch in a few tablespoons of the broth before adding it to the mixture to avoid lumps.
3) Shred chicken and chop up vegetables, if you are adding some.
4) In a pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil, fry the fresh chili pepper, if using, and dissolve the turmeric in the oil. Add this oil to the broth mixture.
5) Add milk/cream and blend to a smooth sauce.
6) Return to medium heat and add the shredded chicken and veggies. Allow to simmer until the veggies are soft, or the stew is warm.
7) Serve with rice, potato, and boiled egg.

Enjoy!

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