In this post we'll explain what is and how to prepare "Aji de gallina" (Chicken aji)
What is Aji de gallina?
Chicken aji is a thick cream with frayed chicken breast served with cooked potatoes (papas) and rice. t'Is, after the ceviche, the most famous dish of Peruvian cuisine.
The origin of this dish is not entirely clear. There are authors who link it to a dish known as manjar blanco, which is a sweet cream that is taken as a dessert. In medieval cuisine this food was prepared with chicken breast, rice starch, sugar, almonds, sometimes milk and other ingredients, but in Peru it suffered variations, such as the incorporation of yellow chili, and ended up becoming a savory dish.
Other authors promulgate that its origin lies in the migas de pastor español (Spanish shepherd’s crumbs, dish made mainly with pieces of toast crumbs accompanied by minced meat and vegetables) and within these there are those who claim that they suffered a gastronomic miscegenation with the chiri uchútypical dish of Cusco cuisine.
Whatever its origin, it became a very popular dish in Peru, having recorded its consumption in records of 1839, made by the gendarmes of Lima Police, who carried out controls in food establishments, for compliance with the Rules of Sale of Meats and Meals in force at the time.
After the history lesson let’s move on to what we’re interested in, which is the recipe itself.
First of all we will say that you have to make several preparations separately before serving the dish. The first one, for the preparation of chicken broth, the second for the preparation of accompaniments (boiled potatoes and white rice) and the third the preparation of the dish itself.
INGREDIENTS. (for 2 people)
For the preparation of the dish:
- 1 chicken breast. (other parts can be used, such as thighs, as long as they have enough meat to be able to shred it). We will also use it for the preparation of the broth. In case of using breast, we recommend yellow chicken breast
- 1 onion. (we like shallot onion)
- Garlic (2 pieces)
- ½ Kilo of yellow aji pepper or 4 spoonsof yellow aji paste (both can be found in Latin food stores). If you buy the yellow aji pepper to prepare the pasta you must blanch them and then grind them to obtain the paste)
- 3 slices of bread
- 250 cl. of chicken broth
- Parmesan cheese
- 1 boiled egg
- Shelled nuts (1 per person)
- Black olives (we use dehydrated olives)
- Salt, pepper & cumin
For the accompaniment:
- 250 gr. potatoes (to be boiled)
- 100 grs. rice
How to prepare "Aji de gallina"
First, we will start with the preparation of chicken broth, for which we will use the parts of the chicken that we have for the dish (breast or thighs) along with the vegetables that we have (leek, carrot, etc).
Once this is done, we reserve the part we need and in which we will put the slices of bread. When they are well soaked, we grind them for when we add it. We also reserve the meat that when it is a little colder we will fray.
At the same time that we prepare the broth we can also prepare a blank rice and cook the egg. I don’t think this part needs explaining, do you?
If we have enough space on the stove, we can cook the potatoes. Depending on the type of potato we use, we can cook them with skin, just like we do, but without letting them become in canarian potatoes (papas arrugadas).
Now it’s time to show you how chicken aji is prepared.
Being this recipe for 2 people we will use a medium saucepan in which we will put a splash of olive oil in which we will sauté the onion well chopped and the garlic (better crushed).
When the onion is soft we add the yellow aji pepper paste, in the ingredients section we have explained how to prepare it, and we stir constantly to get a homogeneous texture.
Then add the chicken broth and continue stirring until the sauce is reduced just a little.
It is then time to add the chicken meat that we have previously saved and make it mix well with the sauce that we have prepared. At this point we can also add some liquid cream (optional) to give it one more point of creaminess.
Now just add the salt, pepper and cumin to taste and let the sauce shrink until it reaches the desired thickness.
Finally before moving to the plate, let it rest for a couple of minutes.
For the presentation we will take some boiled potato slices that we will use as a base, on which we will place the portion of Aji de gallina.
Then and above this grate the parmesan cheese, nuts and boiled egg.
Finally, we will put the black olives, whole or sliced. In our case we prefer to use dehydrated black olives in slices.
Just put it on the table and accompany it with a bowl of rice.
Enjoy your meal!