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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Aji de Gallina

I am still feeling really lousy but can taste food again. I think I had/have a mild case of strep, which is going around. I had stored up some amoxicillin for bad times, hard to find these days. I called my longtime doctor and he said to go ahead and start taking it. So I did. 

He told me that it was common to get a throat or low grade infection after undergoing a surgery like I had and I feel dumb for not dealing with it a week ago. I hadn't wanted to bug him because he is sort of not seeing patients like me anymore, now attached to a boutique medicine clinic but he has been my guy since 1976 or so and I know I can always call.

Thank you Seymour.

I really haven't worked in a week or two, just useless actually. A little broke, a little depressed.

I stopped at the store today and then went to Rosa's for more chicken soup, the best local cure. Sopa de caldo de pollo.

Afterwards I went and grabbed ingredients for tonight's dinner, which I have been thinking about for several weeks but didn't want to prepare until I was feeling better.

I grilled lamb chops and rosemary last night and they tasted pretty darn good so I thought I was good to go for today.

I was making aji de gallina, better known as the classic national dish of Peru.

We first got acquainted with the dish at the now closed but wonderful Panca in Oceanside and I have honestly never tasted a better sauce. I have never made it before.

Here is a blogpost with a picture and description of it.

The sauce is made with parmesan, walnuts, bread and aji amarilla peppers or paste, along with various additional spices including turmeric, cumin, garlic, onion and salt.

Here is a picture from this afternoon. 

I am soaking the bread in evaporated milk, poaching the organic chicken (thighs and drumsticks) and cooking my yellow potatoes.

I made a nice chicken stock which we saved for later and shredded the chicken by hand after it cooled. 

We pureed the bread, milk, parmesan and walnuts along with a cup of broth in the cuisinart.

Next I cooked finely minced onions and garlic down in my dutch oven with a little peanut oil and added the chili paste along with some aji panca powder that we got from Melissa. It added a slightly different redder hue and flavor set to the dish.

This is not a fancy dish nor it is particularly visually appealing.

Quite monochromatic actually. 

But damn does it taste good. 

You can not beat the flavor of the aji amarilla pepper, simply incredible. There really is no comparable flavor set in our western cuisine.

I added everything to the pot, including the potatoes and, after adding more broth, let the whole thing cook down and simmer for about thirty minutes. 

Added more aji, twice, most recipes too wimpy for our spicy palettes.

Not too hot but a piquant color taste that you have never had in your gustatory crayon box before.

Most recipes plate it over potatoes and rice but we didn't think we needed the extra starch. 

It also typically has a hard boiled egg on top but Les is not a fan and we are out of eggs so that settled that. It is also often topped with Peruvian olives but I wouldn't even know where to find them.

Lena bought me some plantains but I made so much food that I decided to cook them tomorrow.

So a little cilantro and we were good to go. Simple and perfect.

It was delicious. I am so happy to have finally prepared it.

Leslie says it was honestly better than Panca's.

Aw shucks...

and we have lots of leftovers...


Liz said...

Interesting. I am finally out of the hospital again and discovered that most of the staff had not heard of George santos, E. Jean Carroll or anyone else on the news. These were serious, smart nursing staff. Not sure if they were hiding it or what. Disturbs me that the people I am dependent on (and like) are so ignorant. Hopefully they will learn something

Blue Heron said...

I think people feel helpless and bombarded and that it is easier to shut off the world.