Chickpea Porridge with Chile Oil (Pepián de Garbanzos)
America Sanchez serves this dish—a creamy, smooth chickpea puree drizzled with aji mirasol chile oil—at her house in Magdalena de Cao (which doubles as a hostel). Sanchez grinds the chickpeas to a smooth paste using her stone mortar and pestle, but a food processor also does a good job. Time and patience are required to peel each chickpea by hand, but it is a step that should not be skipped. Serve the polenta-like porridge with beef or goat stew or with any saucy, meaty dish.
- 1⁄2 lb. dried chickpeas
- 1⁄3 cup canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 whole dried ají mirasol chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 10 sprigs (small) fresh cilantro
- Put the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them with cold water by a few inches. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chickpeas soak at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the chickpeas and peel each one by pinching and slipping off the skins. Discard the skins. (Alternatively, gently rub the chickpeas, in batches, between 2 kitchen towels to release the skins.) Rinse the chickpeas, then transfer them to a food processor. Add 3⁄4 cup water and purée the chickpeas until silky and smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the inside of the food processor bowl with a rubber spatula and purée until very silky, about 3 minutes more. Set the chickpea purée aside.
- Heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 seconds. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to a pulp, 5–6 minutes. Add the reserved chickpea purée and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and slowly whisk in 7 cups hot water until well combined and smooth. Return the pot to medium-low heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens and becomes satiny smooth, about 1 hour. Season with salt to taste, then ladle the porridge into a deep bowl and set aside to let firm up.
- Meanwhile, put the chiles into a medium pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil gently until soft, about 15 minutes. Reserve 2 tbsp. of the cooking water and drain the chiles. Tear the chiles into small pieces. Transfer the chiles and reserved cooking water to a spice grinder or mini food processor and grind the mixture to a paste. Heat the remaining oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chile purée and season with salt to taste. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until sizzling, about 1 minute. Drizzle the chile oil over the porridge and garnish with the cilantro sprigs.