Stews are so good!  I find it hard to resist mushy foods, especially if they involve potatoes and carrots.  AND RICE??  AND PEAS??  This one was an immediate winner in my book.  And I have to say that it was fairly easy to make and infinitely rewarding (delicious even when reheated).  Judging by the source for this recipe, I’d say I did a fairly okay job of replicating it.  The only annoying part was that I wasn’t convinced by the way my dish came out aesthetically.  Did I chop the potatoes too large?  Should I have diced instead of sliced the carrots??  It just seemed particularly home-made and not like a recipe I pulled from somewhere else or had any sort of cultural origin.  Hmm… I’ll test out variations the next time I make it.

On a side note, I’ve finally realized the importance of bay leaves in flavoring soups and stews.  They are so wonderfully discreet but can make any old dish sparkle.  From now on I vow to always have a container on hand.  It joins the ranks of rice, hot sauce, curry, eggs, and garlic on my MUST HAVE AT ALL TIMES kitchen list.

Garlic, onions, and tomatoes….

…. + chicken

…..+ veggies

Ingredients for the Peruvian aji.  Somehow my aji turned out to be bright pink in color and retained quite a bit of water.  It was good but I don’t know where things went wrong!  Certainly didn’t look like the photos from the recipe blog.

Ingredients:

1/4c vegetable oil

1 small red onion

5 cloves garlic

1 medium tomato

1 1/2lb. boneless skinless chicken breast

2 carrots

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

1/2c frozen carrots

1/2c frozen peas

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

—-

For the aji:

1/2 small red onion

4 red chili peppers

2 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon (I’m guessing that’s about 2 tbsp)

salt and pepper to taste

Equipment:

A stockpot

A blender or food processor

How to Make:

Peel and dice the tomato.  I did it painstakingly by cutting the tomato in half and trying to peel off little bits.  An easier thing to do would be to blanche it in hot water for a few seconds and the peel should come right off.  Oh well, next time.  Cube the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Cut the onion and mince garlic.  In your stockpot, heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the onions and garlic.  Cook until the onion is translucent and stir frequently.  In the meantime, peel and cube the potatoes and carrots (if you’re a slow peeler/cutter, you might consider doing this before you cook anything) and measure out the frozen vegetables.  When the onions are translucent, add the tomato.  Cook and mix mix mix until the mixture becomes goopy and you can’t see the individual tomato bits (only skin and goop).  Add salt and pepper at this point.  Liberally.  I added “liberally” and it wasn’t even enough.

Add the chicken cubes and cook/stir until the outsides are completely white.  Add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, and frozen vegetables.  Mix mix mix to coat.  Cover with water until just about half of the ingredients are submerged.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stir, and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.  During this time, prepare rice in your rice cooker (because you already have one by the time of this post!).  Also, make the aji if you want it.  Dice the onions and cut the tips off the chilli pepper.  Combine with lemon juice and olive oil and salt/pepper in the food processor.  Blend blend blend.  My aji ended up being really watery, so I put it through a fine-mesh colander to drain it of some of its liquid.  It should last for several days in the fridge (mine is still sitting in my fridge after three weeks… I’m considering throwing it out but also I don’t think anything would go “bad” necessarily….).

Spoon everything together.  Enjoy!

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