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“PICANTE DE POLLO” (Bolivian Spicy Chicken)

At our November Multicultural Community Kitchen, Carla taught us how to prepare Picante de Pollo – the national dish of Bolivia. This chicken dish with green peas, onions and peppers, is eaten with rice and chuño; freeze-dried potatoes traditionally made in Bolivia and Peru. This pot dish is also healthy and quick to prepare.

Serve the chicken with some chilli sauce on top, adding chuño and rice. Eat with a tomato and onion salad.

INGREDIENTS (for 8 portions)

  • 1 chicken
  • 250 grams of green peas (fresh, peeled or frozen)
  • 8 dehydrated cayenne peppers
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • half a head of celery
  • 2 tbsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

First, cut the chicken into large portions and place in a cooking pot. Add a little salt, 1 whole onion (you can halve it), celery, 1 whole clove of garlic and enough water to cover the chicken. Boil for 20 minutes until the chicken is soft. Stir occasionally. When the chicken is ready, take it out of the water and leave it aside. Do not throw out the water where the chicken was cooked as you will use that for preparing your rice.

Lightly boil the peas and drain.

Then, we need to get ready the spicy sauce for the chicken. (It is really easy and simple to make. I recommend having it ready in advance, so it saves you some time since you can freeze this spicy sauce.)

Cut the heads of the dry red cayenne peppers, remove the stems and seeds. (Red peppers can be very spicy so we need to take the seeds out and leave them very clean.) Put them into hot water for about 10 – 15 minutes. When you see the skins of the peppers start getting loose, you know they are ready.

Drain, and put them in the blender with two cups of water (you can use the water the chicken was cooked in) for about 2 minutes until it is very smooth. Set this sauce aside.

Meanwhile, chop 1 onion really small and put it in a large pot with 2 tbsp of salt and 2 tbsp of oil. Fry the onion for about 5 min until the onion crystalizes.

Once that is dry, add the blended spicy cayenne peppers sauce with the chicken. Let it cook for about 15 mins on a low heat until the chicken is tender, stirring from time to time so it doesn’t get burned on the bottom.

It is very important that the sauce doesn’t dry too much and the chicken is not too overcooked. The sauce is thick enough, and the onions are well cooked if you can barely see them in the sauce.

Sprinkle the green peas over the chicken sauce when serving.

Cooking the Rice

  • 4 cups of rice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp salt

Fry the rice in 2 tablespoons of oil, add salt, and diced garlic, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. When the rice is golden brown, add enough water to cover the rice and let it boil on low heat, without stirring, until it becomes soft – about 20 minutes.

Cooking the Chuño (Freeze dried potatoes)

Chuño is really hard to find here in Canada, but as an alternative, you can use mashed potatoes. Basically, Chuño is frozen potato that has been dried in the sun. If you find chuño, it will be dry. You need to let it soak all night and next day, and then break it into pieces with your hands. Once the chuño is in small pieces, wash it one time.

  • 4 cups chuño
  • ½ cup regular milk
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic (chopped)
  • water
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 kg shredded cheese (Mozzarella)

Boil some water, add the chuño and some salt. Cook for about 20 mins. Rinse and set aside. You will see that the colour of the chuño changes from milky white to clear and dark.

While the chuño is cooking, dice the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic with the oil and salt until the onion looks wrinkly. Add the chuño and the milk. Stir for about 1 minute, and then add the shredded cheese until the cheese melts.

Serve the spicy chicken and sprinkle the green peas over it, add chuño and rice and now you are ready to serve the Bolivian spicy dish.

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