Fall is here, and Winter is coming. Around here that means plenty of warm and hearty soups, stews, chowders, and chilis. One of my favorites is this incredible Peruvian chicken stew called Aguadito de Pollo. Traditionally served at weddings, Aguadito is technically Peru's version of chowder, but to those of us in The States it is more recognizable as a stew. Using a few special ingredients, the result is a spicy, thick, hearty stew that is a delicious alternative to chili during football games and other Fall occasions.
- 2 yellow potatoes, chunked and boiled
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 large carrot, diced or sliced
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3-4 boneless chicken breasts
- 9 cloves garlic
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 6 tbsp aji amarillo chili paste (yellow pepper paste)
- 3 tbsp rocoto chili paste (red chili paste)
- 3 sprigs cilantro
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 tbsp cilantro paste
- 4 cups cooked white rice
- Juice of 3 lemons
- Salt and Pepper
*NOTE:If you are going to be making a lot of soups and stews, consider investing in a sturdy enamelware dutch oven. The cast iron distributes and retains heat more steadily, which is essential to slow, even stewing. The enamelware coating makes cleaning up much, much easier. Additionally, most enamel-coated cast iron is guaranteed for life.
Step 1: Pre-boiling
In order to make sure everything cooks evenly, despite different foods cooking at a different rate (especially peas), it helps to pre-boil some of the ingredients.
Place the potatoes in boiling water and boil for 20-25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and set aside.
In the same water, boil the carrots for 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Do the same for the peas, boiling for only a couple of minutes, if fresh, 3-4 minutes if frozen. Remove and set aside.
Step 2: Browning
Heat all but 3-4 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and brown, about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on how large the breasts are. At the same time, heat up the remaining vegetable oil in a dutch oven or stew pot and add the garlic and onions, until softened.
When the chicken is browned, set aside on a clean huck towel.* Set the skillet aside, we will use it and the oil in a future step.
*NOTE:Huck towels are the cook's secret weapon. Lint-free, inexpensive, sterile, and sturdy, they are perfect for draining, cleaning, patting, and better for the environment than paper towels.
Step 3: Time to Make Soup
Once the onions are softened, season with salt and pepper, add cumin, then add 4 tbsp of the yellow chili paste and 2 tbsp of the red chili paste and stir. Allow this to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts (you can pre-cube them if you like), sprigs of cilantro, and chicken broth. 4 cups of chicken broth will yield a very thick stew. If you would like it to be more like soup than chili, consider adding 2-4 more cups of broth.
Bring to a boil then simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Step 4: Almost There
Remove most of the oil from the skillet that was left over from browning the chicken (about 4-5 tbsp should remain). Add the remaining yellow, red, and cilantro paste to the skillet and stir for 5-6 minutes until it looks like it has separated, or curdled, a little.
Step 5: Finally!
Add the rice, potatoes, peas, and carrots to the skillet and mix well, stirring for about 5-6 minutes. Add the contents of the skillet to the dutch oven, lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste), and stir for about 5-6 more minutes.
Serve and Enjoy!