I have a huge pressure in my life. My mother and mother-in-law are not just good cooks, they are exceptional cooks. This poses a dilemma on how I lift my game, so not embarrass myself in the kitchen. Well, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery and therefore we are stealing family secrets in the name of "passing on traditions to the next generation".
The below coveted recipe for Aji de gallina (pronounced ak-he de gae-enna) is a homely traditional Peruvian dish courtesy of Mother-in-law. It has a creamy, walnutty texture and is wonderfully garlic (which the self-conscious can moderate). Do not tell mother-in-law, but I think that this would be a great hang-over cure as it ticks all the boxes (healthy fat from the walnuts, tasty comfort food, vitamins from fresh vegetables and some carbs).
- 2 Chicken breasts cut into about 5 or 6 pieces
- 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
- 750ml Water
- 1 Stick of celery, chopped
- 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
- 1/2 Leek, sliced
- 1 Medium onion, chopped
- 1 Aji chilli (substitute with a mild chilli pepper) chopped with seeds and veins removed
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 2 Slices white bread with crust removed
- 20g Chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- Salt and white pepper
- Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and fry half of the onion with half of the garlic.
- Add the carrot, celery, leek, chicken and 1/2 of the oregano and leave to cook for 2 minutes on a medium heat.
- Pour the water into the pan. Add a little seasoning, stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Use a colander to strain the liquid into a suitable container.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the vegetables and keep in a bowl for later.
- Add the slices of bread to the liquid and leave to one side.
- Using your fingers or a fork, shred the chicken.
- Heat the pan with the remainder of the oil and add the rest of the onion and garlic.
- When the onion becomes translucent, add the chilli, chicken, and the rest of the oregano.
- Add the soaked bread to the pan and stir well on a medium to low heat.
Serve with rice and / or boiled potatoes. Decorate with black olives. The piece de la resistance is a random boiled egg, which you would expect to see in any South American dish (like you do of course).
The problem with my above clandestine plan is that
a) Father-in-law reads this blog so we are outed.
b) I am rarely the chef, so my cooking skills stay fairly stagnant.
Like Aji de gallina b) is a bit of chicken and egg situation. Come on, you knew that joke was coming. Chortle chortle.