One of my all-time favorite Peruvian dishes is Aji de Gallina. Actually, the first time I ever ate it was in Chicago around 1995, prepared by my Peruvian sister-in-law. After that, I was hooked and had to find out how to make aji de gallina myself.
There are many versions of this popular dish. I find you can make it as simple or decadent as you like, depending on the ingredients you decide to use. Of course, chicken and aji pepper are the focal points of this dish. Some people use a combination of the dark meat and light meat of the chicken for this dish because the dark meat is moister, but I typically use chicken breasts.
The addition of bread, aji, nuts and cheese to the somewhat spicy chicken gives an added dimension to this very traditional dish. This is even better the next day for leftovers.
This can be a time-consuming dish to prepare, so to save time you can boil the chicken the day before and shred it.
Always use chicken broth or stock (homemade or store-bought) to parboil the chicken instead of plain water. It makes a big difference in the flavor of the chicken.
You can make the aji mirasol or aji amarillo paste yourself, but it’s time consuming. I usually buy it homemade from the lady in my local mercado or at the store in a jar or package.
I always use half evaporated milk (¾ cup) and half cream (¾ cup) for my recipe. But if you only have evaporated milk available, use 1 ½ cups of that. If you want the sauce to be extra creamy, add ½ cup more of the cream.
I use the soft, white bread for this recipe. The cheaper, the better. For some reason the Bimbo’s brand here in Peru is perfect for this recipe. In the U.S., you would use the white Wonder Bread.
Serves 4-6 people
Cover photo: Erick Andia. All other photos courtesy of Sheila Christensen Jeanneau