Aji de Gallina

I was in math class and as it does so often around me, the topic turned to food. Which is so much more interesting that annuity formula. A friend from Columbia shared this dish with me and a blog she loves for Columbian cooking I have been enjoying lately.

The aji paste is really important to this dish. It's has a wonderful subtle heat and a nice pepper flavor. In Colombia aji peppers are used but since they aren't available here the best is the next best thing.

3 chicken breasts on the bone with the skin
Vegetable oil
1 onion, cut in half
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
2 bay leaves
6 cloves peppercorns
water to cover

3 slices white bread
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup aji paste
3 tbsp. walnuts, chopped
2 oz. Manchego cheese, grated
2 c. reserved broth from cooking the chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cooked rice, potatoes, and egg to serve

In a large heavy bottom pan heat a little oil and sear the chicken breasts on the skin side. Add the onion, garlic, celery, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Cover with water and simmer until the chicken is completely tender.

I did the chicken in the instapot. Use the sauté setting to sear the chicken on one side. Add the vegetables and over with water. Cook on high for 24 minutes.

Strain the chicken and discard the vegetables. Shred the meat and set aside. Cook the rice and potatoes in some of the chicken broth. I also did that in the instapot. I put broth, rice, potato slices, and two eggs in the pot at the same time and put it on the rice setting.

Meanwhile rip up the bread and place in a blender. Cover with the evaporated milk and let sit while you sauté the onion in a little oil until tender. Add the garlic and sauté another minute before adding the aji paste and cooking for another minute or two. Add to the blender with the bread, the walnuts, and the Manchego cheese. Process until very smooth.

Return the mixture from the blender to the saucepan and add the reserved chicken broth. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and serve with rice, potatoes, and eggs. 


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