Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Peruvian Chicken and Aji Verde with Latin Chickpeas and Sweet Plantains

I love making food from other cultures. I usually try to do the more traditional preparation, but sometimes I don't. This is one of those times. This whole meal is definitely "South American inspired" versus an authentic recipe.

Still, it ended up being really tasty, so I don't mind.

The overall meal preperation ended up being kind of involved, so this isn't a super-quick meal to throw together, but the aji verde sauce is just blended together, the chickpeas just simmer on the stove as the chicken bakes and the plantains cook pretty fast.

I managed to make it in about an hour (excluding marinating time).

Peruvian Chicken and Aji Verde with Latin Chickpeas and Sweet Plantains
(adapted from here and here and here)

Peruvian Chicken Marinade:
1 lb chicken breasts
1.5 oz tequila 
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 lime, juice of
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt

Aji Verde Sauce:
4 jalapeños, seeded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
3 clove garlic
1 tbsp white vinegar
pinch cumin
salt and pepper
2 tbsp sour cream

Latin Chickpeas:
5 oz breakfast sausage (or 1/2 a chorizo sausage if you have one)
2 teaspoons of cumin (or taco seasoning, which I keep in a spice bottle)
1 small onion (or half a large one)
1 packet Sazon Goya w/ Culantro & Annatto
pinch of salt
1 tomato, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
15.5-oz can Garbanzo Beans
1 cup of chicken broth

Sweet Plantains:
2 ripe black plantains
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brown sugar


==

Begin the night before by combining the marinade ingredients along with the chicken in a ziplock bag.


Squeeze out the air and stash it in the fridge.


==

About an hour before you want to eat, start the chickpeas.

I found a much more involved recipe that calls for chorizo. I had some leftover breakfast sausage so I decided to use it in the chickpeas instead. Turned out great.

Just toss it in a saucepan.


Season the sausage with the cumin or taco seasoning.


Once the sausage has rendered some fat, add the onion and Sazon Goya. Also add a pinch of salt.


Add the tomato and garlic after the onion has softened (about 5 minutes).


Add the chickpeas.


Add the cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer and cook for about an hour.


==

Now, make the aji sauce.

Slice up 4 jalapeños and seed them with a teaspoon.


Add the jalapeños, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp white vinegar, pinch cumin, salt and pepper and 2 tbsp sour cream to a blender or food processor.


Process until smooth. Scrape down the sides as you go. It's going to be impossible to get it perfectly smooth in a food processor but it still works fine.

Toss the sauce in the fridge until service.


==

When you're about 20 minutes out, start prepping the chicken.

Drain the marinade from the chicken and prep for baking.


I baked the chicken but will pan fry it next time. I never manage to get the chicken cooked properly in the oven. It's a flaw of mine, so please, if you bake better than I do, go ahead with it.

I baked at 400F for about 20 minutes.


==

While your chicken bakes, start the plantains.

If you've never dealt with plantains, the green ones are not ripe (but delicious) and the yellow ones are ripe. The blacker the better for sweet plantains, btw. The one on the left was not ripe enough.

The peel is really thick, so you need to slice the ends off and slice down the length of the plantain to peel.


Slice on the bias, about 1/2 inch pieces.


Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.


Add the plantains in a single layer.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.


Flip and sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon brown sugar over the top.


Cook until the sugar caramelizes, 3-5 minutes more.


==

Everything should be finishing up at this point.

Make sure your chicken is cooked (160F).


Your chickpeas should be reduced to a thicker consistency. Check for salt, but the reduction process will impart a lot of salt on its own. Just give it a taste. I like it a little salty and thought it worked well with the whole dish.


Serve everything together with the aji sauce over top.

This is one of those dishes that each part is good, but together, everything is amazing. I added considerably more sauce throughout the meal and really thought it was fantastic.

The chickpeas were salty and savory and the chicken and sauce were more tangy and matched really well. The sweetness of the plantains added a great aspect that really complimented the rest of the flavors of the dish.

Overall, this ended up being a really tasty meal with flavors I don't have very often.


Enjoy!

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