Shredded Chicken with Chiles
Based on a combination of Spanish and indigenous Peruvian techniques and ingredients, this classic Peruvian stew was eagerly anticipated weekday fare in the author's childhood home.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 2 (3-lb.) chickens
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices country-style French or Italian bread, sliced about 3/4'' thick
- 1 cup cream
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 fresh panca or New Mexican chiles, 2 seeded and minced
- 2 Tbsp. panca paste (sweet red chile paste)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup walnuts, finely ground
- 2 lb. tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
- 4 Greek-style black olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
- Place chickens in a large pot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until juices from chicken run clear, about 40 minutes. Drain chickens, reserving 2 cups stock. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken meat, discarding bones and skin.
- Tear bread into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Add cream and set aside to soften for 20 minutes.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add minced chiles, panca paste, cumin, walnuts, tomatoes, and soaked bread and cream. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add chicken and reserved stock. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in parmigiano-reggiano and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes more. Serve over rice, with remaining chile (thinly sliced) and olives as garnish.