Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Peruvian Rice & Lentis (Tacu Tacu)

This is a great side dish for Peruvian chicken.

1 cup dried brown lentils (7 ounces)
7 1/4 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic, divided
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon bottled ají amarillo or ají mirasol paste (sometimes labeled "crema")

Bring lentils, 5 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 12 to 25 minutes (depending on age of lentils). Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook 1 teaspoon garlic in 1 tablespoon oil in another heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining 2 1/4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then cook, covered, over low heat 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir rice from top to bottom with a rubber spatula, then stir into lentils.

While rice stands, sautéonion and remaining teaspoon garlic in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until onion is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in chile paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir onion mixture into rice mixture.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in skillet over medium heat until hot. Add rice mixture and fry, gently flattening with a spatula, until a golden-brown crust forms on underside, about 3 minutes. Stir rice and fry, flattening it, until a crust forms on underside again, about 3 minutes more. Repeat frying and stirring until bits of crust are dispersed throughout, about 9 minutes more (about 15 minutes total frying time).

Notes: I increased this recipe by 1/3rd for the dinner party. I should have doubled it!   I also added more of the aji mirasol paste.

Peruvian-Style Chicken w/Green Sauce

I hosted a group rotation dinner (11 April 2015) with 17 friends and chose Peruvian foods for the dinner theme. I made Peruvian chicken, a green aji sauce, a yellow sauce (both spicy from jalapeno and aji peppers);  and a rice/lentil side dish.

The following are the recipe for the chicken and both sauces. There are links below to the rice/lentil side dish and a Peruvian potato salad that a friend made.

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

Adapated from: http://www.onceuponachef.com/2013/01/peruvian-style-roast-chicken-with-green-sauce.html#tabrecipe

For the Chicken
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 limes
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
4 pound whole chicken

Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a blender or mini food processor, and blend until smooth. Remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken and pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels; place in a bowl, breast side up with the legs facing you. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or your fingers, loosen the skin from the flesh over the breasts and legs, being careful not to tear the skin or push all the way through (you want the marinade to stay inside the bird). Spoon about 2/3 of the marinade evenly underneath the skin, and spread the remaining 1/3 evenly over the skin. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Spray a rack (preferably a v-shape) with non-stick cooking spray and place the chicken on top. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees, and continue to roast for about an hour and ten minutes more, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. (Keep an eye on it -- if it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.) Tent the chicken with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes. Tilt the chicken over the roasting pan to release the juices, then transfer to a cutting board. Carve the chicken and serve with green sauce.

For the Green Sauce
3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded if desired (I use about half the seeds for a medium-hot sauce), and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's [I used less mayonnaise]
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

[I added some queso fresco cheese, as it was listed in another recipe]

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend into a smooth sauce. With the motor running, open lid and slowly drizzle in olive oil. It will seem very runny at this point but, don't worry, it will thicken up as it sits. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yellow Aji sauce 
Adapted from: http://vespawoolf.hubpages.com/hub/Peruvian-Sauce-Recipe

3 ounces (80 grams) queso fresco (fresh cheese), farmer's cheese or feta
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 aji peppers (seeds & veins removed) or 1/4 cup aji amarillo paste
4 small sprigs huacatay or 1/2 teaspoon huacatay paste
4 Tablespoons (15 mL) vegetable oil, divided
1 Tablespoon raw peanuts
salt, to taste

Coarsely chop peppers, onion and garlic.

Pour 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil into a medium skillet. Over medium heat, saute vegetables until soft.

Scrape vegetables into a blender container. Add the remaining ingredients (including the rest of the vegetable oil) and blend for several minutes, until thick and creamy.

Drizzle over steamed potatoes or serve with fries, beef or chicken.

My Notes: 

1. I used chicken thighs, legs, and a couple of large breasts (cut smaller). In all, about 30 pieces. Tony used his smoker (rather than in the oven or his other grill) and followed the directions for roasting. The breasts came out slightly dry, so next time, we’ll stick to legs and thighs. Total cooking time was about 1.5 hours. No resting of the chicken – we dove in and it disappeared quickly.

2.  My green sauce turned out reallllly hot! Probably too many seeds.  I ended up adding almost a whole cup of sour cream to tone it down, along with more cilantro leaves and stems. While still hot, the flavors were fabulous with the chicken.  This is definitely a sauce I’ll make many more times for my other meals. It would be great on any chicken, beef, or pork; even cooked potatoes. Toned down, I can see it as a great dipping sauce with chips.

3. The yellow sauce came out very thick. Next time I’ll add a little water or maybe sour cream. I didn’t have any raw peanuts on hand; and I used the aji amarillo paste instead of peppers.  

Between the two, the green sauce was everyone’s favorite.

Here are two other recipes from the dinner:

Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce (Papas a la Huancaina): http://monicacooks.blogspot.com/2015/04/peruvian-potatoes-with-spicy-cream-sauce.html

Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce

I hosted a rotation dinner (11 April 2015) and decided on a Peruvian dinner theme. I made Peruvian chicken, a green aji sauce, a yellow sauce (both spicy from jalapeno and aji peppers), and a rice/lentil side dish. I’ll post these recipes soon.
Suzanne made this tasty Peruvian potato salad. I loved the flavors of the sauce and the saltiness of the kalamata olives.
"Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce (Papas a la Huancaina)"

Adapted from:  http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/peruvian-potatoes-with-spicy-cream-sauce-papas-a-la-huancaina.html
4 medium Russett potatoes [I added a few more potatoes]
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon seeded and finely chopped jarred aji amarillo peppers or fresh habanero
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 lime, juiced
4 large lettuce leaves (such as Bibb or romaine)  [I did not use any lettuce – just served in a platter]
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
10 black olives pitted and sliced (Kalamata or Botija Peruvian olives)  [I used Kalamata olives]
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 30 minutes or until a paring knife slides into the potatoes without any resistance. Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly. Slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds and set aside.
Combine the cheese, evaporated milk, oil, chile, garlic, and the lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. The sauce should be creamy and pourable. If the sauce is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is thinned out.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and top with the sliced potatoes. Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg and olives. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Note: A great substitute in this recipe, for feta cheese, is cream cheese.