Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Peruvian Chicken

The first time I tasted this was at my cousin Beth’s house. Her husband is from Peru and his mother was visiting and said she would make her favorite dish for all the family gathered there (and there were a lot of us). The moment I tried it I fell in love with it. Simple, straight forward and easy to prepare, the fantastic flavor lies in combining fresh cilantro (koriander) with cumin~ the synergy that occurs is magical!

1 big bunch cilantro (koriander), or two small bunches, washed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno pepper, or 1 small red Thai pepper-- more peppers equal more heat
¼ teaspoon salt
Olive oil
4 chicken thighs
4 chicken breasts, cut in half width-wise
1 green bell peppers, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 cups peeled, diced potato (if you like potatoes use 2 cups, if not, use 1)
2 cups basmati rice
3 and 2/3 cup chicken stock or water with boullion cubes
2/3 cup frozen peas

1) Throw the cilantro (including stems if you like-- no problem), cumin, garlic, peppers, salt and a bit of olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Begin to process the herbs and drizzle in more olive oil as it’s going-- this will work into a paste quickly-- you want it to be the consistency of pesto. Remove and set aside; this can be made up to a day ahead and held in the refrigerator.

2) Season the chicken with salt. In a very large pot, brown the chicken on both sides, (just to get color, not to cook) in a bit more olive oil. Remove chicken to a plate and toss in the green bell pepper and onion-- saute for about a minute until they begin to soften.

3) Add in the potato and then the rice, stock and cilantro sauce, previously made. Stir well. Submerge the chicken pieces (with all their collected juices), cover and simmer (do not boil) for about 35 minutes, then stir and add in the peas, replace cover, turn heat way down to the lowest and continue to very gently cook for 15 minutes more.

The dish is done when all the liquid is absorbed into the rice.

Serves 8

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