Saturday, May 14, 2011

Aji De Pollo (Creamy Shredded Chicken with Turmeric)


My mom calls this dish “Picante de Pollo.” Everyone else I know — including my grandma — calls it “Aji de Pollo.” I guess it doesn’t really matter since “picante” means “hot” and “aji” means “hot pepper.”
This is a classic Peruvian dish and one you’ll find in many restaurants in Lima. For me, it’s the turmeric that makes the dish so special. The habanero gives it a slight kick, although in Peru you’d use aji amarillo instead.
Many people like to eat it as a dip for crackers and/or toasted French bread, but I prefer to serve it with rice.

Ingredients: (Serves 4 people)
6 cups cooked rice (1 1/2 cups per serving)
1 pound chicken breasts
3 hamburger or hot dog buns
1 1/2 cups milk (Any milk will do, I used skim)
1 large white onion diced
3 large cloves garlic smashed
1 chicken bouillon cube (if the broth is too weak)
1/4 habanero or 1/2 aji amarillo finely diced
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
olive or canola oil

Preparation:
Start by breaking the buns into small chunks. Soak the chunks in a bowl with the milk.
To make a broth, boil the chicken in about 3 cups of water for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and set apart on a plate. Into a small container, pour the broth. Break the breasts apart with a fork or your fingers until you have small strips of shredded chicken, no more than an inch long.
In the same pot you cooked the chicken, saute onions along with garlic in a drizzle of oil; add the chicken bouillon, pepper, habanero or aji amarillo, and turmeric.
When the onions and garlic are sauteed and translucent, add about 1/4 cup of the broth. Add the shredded chicken and mix well. Cook 2 or 3 minutes.
Mash the bread and then add it to the pot; cook for about 5 minutes. If the cream gets too thick add more of the broth.
Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Turn off the heat and remove from the stove.

Presentation:
When serving with rice, I like to add a side of green beans or spinach fritters, but any kind of vegetable side will work.

Prepared on 2011-04-10 (Tulsa, OK), Photograph by Michael Findley

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