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peruvian aji de gallina

Posted on October 26th, 2011  |  No Comments

Happy Hump Day! (yeah I said it. deal with it.) I’ll also say Happy Wednesday!

Today I bring to you a dish from my man’s homeland, PERU! It’s called aji de gallina and it means chicken with aji (peppers.) What that means, is you combine some odd ingredients and get this amazing thick cheesy semi spicy sauce poured over shredded chicken, topped with the perfect salty balance only found in olives.

It’s traditionally served with potatoes and hard-boiled egg slices, but my eggs didn’t turn out so well (as in undercooked, whoops!) But I did buy parsley and olives specifically for this, keeping with tradition and all. The olives are AMAZING by the way, as in a must have ingredient for the dish!

Some of the other ingredients aren’t on my usual grocery list, as in white bread and evaporated milk. (You could use half and half and whole wheat bread – I wanted to, but at Lui’s request I went as close to the original recipe as possible.)

Just for him. 😉


Be sure to shake well!

The chicken was just cooked with veggies to make its own stock, cooled and shredded. I used all legs, you can use whatever you have on hand, but my mother-in-law said dark meat was better. So I used dark meat. :)

The sauce gets started just like any gravy, which is a nice comparison for the consistency and likeness factor. Who doesn’t friggin love gravy? I mean they like to put it all over waffles for goodness sake. Think of gravy meets cheese sauce. Yeah. It’s like that.

Saute onions in oil and add an array of spices. I used cumin, turmeric (a powerful anti-inflammatory agent) and chili powder. Don’t see aji pepper there, yeah… that’s cause after 3 stores I gave up called my mother-in-law and she said I could just use turmeric, and a bunch of recipes I saw had chili powder, so there it is.

Just a bit of pureeing and a super thick ‘n creamy, spicy cheese gravy sauce is born. Flavor I’ve never had before, but will def make again. (perhaps I can make a healthier version :))

So if you can’t make it to Machu Picchu, try whipping up this authentic Peruvian specialty, kicking back, relaxing and looking at pictures of Machu Picchu on the internet.

Almost the next best thing. Right?

Question: Have you ever been to Peru? What’s your favorite Peruvian dish? 



aji de gallina

makes 6 servings


9 chicken drumsticks (~3 lbs)

2 carrots

3 celery

1 medium onion

2 bay leaves

1 tsp salt


~ 2 quarts of water (enough to about cover everything)


1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 slices white bread

1 can evaporated milk (~ 1 1/2 cups)

1 large onion

~ 1/4 c. walnuts

~ 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

2 c. chicken stock


~ 1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

parsely, finely chopped

  1. In a large saucepan, add the ingredients for the stock. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and let to cool. Strain the rest of the chicken stock, and throw away the veggies.
  2. In a bowl soak the bread in the milk. Meanwhile, saute the onion in oil, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add spices and cook for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a large food processor or blender, puree the bread mixture, walnuts, onion spice blend until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and chicken stock (in parts, until desired consistency, I used about a cup.)
  4. Shred the the chicken.
  5. Serve the chicken over bulgar, rice or any other grain and topped with the sauce. Garnished with hard-boiled egg  and potato slices, sprinkled with parsley and kalamata olive slices.
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