This recipe is a homestyle chicken dish that is very common in Peru. As with all the best traditional recipes, Aji de Gallina varies a bit from family to family. I’ve done my best to stay true to the majority of the traditional ingredients and techniques, while also adapting it a bit to suit my family’s tastes and to streamline the preparation process as much as possible. I hope you'll try this Peruvian Yellow Pepper Chicken recipe the next time you're itching to try something new in your kitchen!
Inspired by a dinner party.
The first time I made this was also the first time I had ever eaten Aji de Gallina. A dear sweet couple, Jim and Jodi, who are some of our best friends and also happen to be our cousins, have a deep love for this dish. Jim was raised in Peru for most of his childhood and he enjoyed this dish often. Jodi grew up here in Michigan but has traveled to Peru as well, and this happens to be her favorite dish from her time there as well.
At the beginning of this year, we planned a double-date to cook a few Peruvian recipes, since I’ve wanted to learn a bit more about Peruvian cuisine for ages, and who better to recipe-test with than those two? I researched Peruvian cookbooks to add to my collection. I came across Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen by Martin Morales, and based on the glowing reviews it seemed like one I would very much enjoy. It is out of print, but I was able to find 2 copies online. One for each couple. We had such fun planning our menu and enjoying it with all of our kids around the table. Jim went through the book and talked all about the dishes and ingredients that reminded him of his childhood and we bookmarked pages for our future dinner parties. (Ironically, Aji de Gallina is not included in that book.) It was easily one of the best evenings of my 2020. I can’t wait to cook with them again.
About the ingredients-
As you read through the recipe, you'll notice a few things that might be somewhat new to you, although they're very traditional in many cuisines and date back generations. First, I don't often serve potatoes and rice together. I also don't often serve hard-boiled eggs with chicken. Using sliced bread as a thickening technique for the sauce is also not one I reach for often either (it's a great way to thicken tomato soup though!). It is so fun to try new things and enjoy different ingredient combinations to get inspired in the kitchen after a LONG year though, so I hope you'll consider adding this to your menu soon as well!
Where to buy Aji Amarillo Paste:
The only somewhat tricky to find ingredient is the Aji Amarillo paste. An aji amarillo is a yellow chile pepper native to Peru. This paste is absolutely essential to making an almost-authentic Aji de Gallina. Serveral brands make aji amarillo paste. I've been using Inca's brand and have been pleased with it. It is available in many Latin American markets and specialty imports stores, as well as on Amazon. (Note: a small jar will last a long time, since you only need a couple of tablespoons for this recipe.)
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Aji de Gallina (Peruvian Yellow Pepper Chicken)
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6 1x
For the marinade-
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons Aji Amarillo paste (*see post above about sourcing)
2 cups chicken stock, (more as needed to cover chicken in pot)
2 slices white bread
⅓ cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons turmeric
1-2 tablespoons aji Amarillo paste (2= quite spicy, I recommend starting with 1, then adding more as needed to achieve desired spice level)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
⅓ cup grated Parmesan
⅓ cup evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
Pitted black olives
Boiled yellow potatoes, sliced or quartered
Arrocito (Peruvian Rice) or steamed rice
In a large zipper storage bag, marinate the chicken thighs with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and aji Amarillo paste. Coat chicken thoroughly and refrigerate 4 hours, up to overnight.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, add the marinated chicken thighs and 2 cups of chicken stock (or more if needed to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reducing heat to maintain a simmer. Poach the chicken thighs until cooked through. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid in a separate bowl/cup. (You’ll be using the Dutch oven again, so don’t put it away yet.)
In a medium bowl, add bread slices, walnuts, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Once bread has absorbed the broth, transfer mixture to a blender and puree until very smooth. Set aside.
(This would be a good time to start boiling water for the potatoes and preparing the rice.)
In the Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cooking until onions are translucent. Add bread puree, turmeric, 1 tablespoon aji Amarillo paste, salt, cumin, and 1 cup of the reserved broth to the pot. Bring to a boil and adjust heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add more aji Amarillo paste to reach desired spice level.
Shred the chicken and return to the pot. Add evaporated milk and parmesan, stirring until combined and parmesan has melted. If sauce seems too thick, drizzle in more of the reserved broth as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Simmer 5 more minutes. (Keep warm while finishing the rice and potatoes.)
Serve hot with boiled yellow potatoes, rice, hard-boiled eggs, and black olives.
Aji Amarillo paste can be found in many Latin American markets and import stores as well as on Amazon. A little bit goes a long way, so taste and adjust amounts as needed.
Keywords: aji de gallina, peruvian yellow pepper chicken
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