Delicious Peruvian flavors come together in a hearty and approachable Peruvian-Inspired Chicken Stew With Giant Corn (Estofado de Pollo con Mote). The mote brings earthy texture and the aji amarillo chile provides sunny, sweet heat to this healthy chicken and sweet potato stew... and look at the fresh garnishes!
God has spoken: The future of gastronomy is being cooked up in Peru," pronounced Spanish superstar chef Ferran Adrià. A glass of mind-blowing pisco in hand, Patrick Symmes takes a tasting tour and says, "Amen!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
Patrick Symmes, in Pop Goes Peru, extols the dynamic changes taking place in the food culture of Peru. A cuisine that relies heavily on humble ingredients, and its multi-ethnic population, is making waves in the global food scene.
That alone is enough to pique interest for this home cook, but the fact that my beautiful sister-in-law hails from Peru has had me wanting to learn more about Peruvian flavors for a decade.
I've been working on Peruvian Chicken Stew with Corn (Estofado de Pollo con Mote Peruano) in my mind - and on my cooktop - for years. 🙂 The gigantic corn (mote) most definitely qualifies as a "humble" ingredient, yet it brings a unique flavor and texture to this stew.
So, how did I arrive at a name for this recipe? Well, my sister Josselin is an invaluable resource when it comes to the Spanish language and Peruvian food. She even got her mama involved.
I want to "represent" their delicious cuisine well, and also keep it accessible to my readers. Referring back to my opening quote, Peruvian cuisine is finally experiencing its due in the United States, and I'm an enthusiastic ambassador. 😉
The ingredients are, for the most part affordable and available, and the Peruvian flavor profile offers a whole new adventure in eating. Have you had the pleasure of either cooking or eating the food of Peru? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!
🌽 What is Mote?
Mote is the Spanish word for several varieties of dried, soaked, and boiled corn that are a staple in many South American countries. In Peru, mote refers historically to peeled white corn kernels that have been boiled with charcoal or firewood, and today with calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) powder.
In Cusco, Peru, there is a variety called giant corn mote of Cusco (maíz mote gigante del Cusco) that is known for its large size. If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know how I love posole, and feature it in many of my New Mexican recipes. You can substitute posolé (hominy), but it isn't quite the same texture and flavor.
The chewy texture of the mote really makes this an interesting dish. I used Mote Pelado I found at Ruben's in McAllen; Goya markets Maiz Mote Pelado (widely available in supermarkets and through Amazon).
Do NOT expect sweet corn! This corn is not at all sweet, but rather has an earthy corn flavor which works really well with the sweet potatoes and aji amarillo chile used in Peruvian Chicken Stew.
How to Cook Mote
Mote, like other large dried foods, requires soaking prior to cooking. Overnight is the easiest way, but I almost always forget!
You can do a "quick soak" by bringing the mote to a boil and then allowing it to soak for an hour. Remember to use plenty of water as it really drinks it up.
Once the mote is pre-soaked, you will need to cook it to al dente. I typically make a 15 ounce bag of mote and freeze what I don't use for my Peruvian chicken stew. It will keep about 3 days in the refrigerator and a couple of months in the freezer, so there's no reason not to make the whole bag!
A stove top pressure cooker requires about 35 minutes and an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot) requires about 40 minutes. A quick release works for both. Don't forget to allow the extra time required to come up to pressure (varies). The electric models do take longer than the stove top pressure cookers.
If you're cooking the mote on the stove, use a heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Simmer 90 minutes to 2 hours until al dente.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- 2 cups cooked mote pelado
- 1 poblano chile
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 medium onion
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, cubed
- 2 small sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons aji amarillo paste*
- 2 cups chicken broth/stock
- 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 small sweet potato
- 4 eggs (boil in advance)
- cilantro, chopped
- scallions, chopped
- avocado, sliced
- lime wedges, about 1
Important note: I used my pressure cooker or Instant Pot to soften the dried corn. It takes about 40 minutes on high pressure to bring it to al dente - still firm to the tooth. A pre-soak is necessary. See How to Cook Mote above.
Unless you have previously cooked mote ready to go, you'll want to get the mote cooking. Even with the aid of the pressure cooker, it takes pre-soaked mote about 45 minutes total. While it cooks, prep the ingredients, and then start the stew.
- Cook the mote - The very first step in preparing this dish is to get your corn cooked. Cook it according to the package instructions. My 15 ounce bag of Mote Pelado provided enough corn for 2 meals. Simply freeze the remainder after adding 2 ½ cups (cooked) to the pot.
- Roast the poblano - Blacken the poblano chile (if using). Put it in a paper back or covered dish to steam for 5-10 before peeling, seeding, and chopping.
- Prep the ingredients - Cube the sweet potato and chicken, chop the onion, and mince the garlic.
- Start the stew - Use a dutch oven or large sauce pan (I love my cast iron dutch oven for this). You will sauté the onions, garlic, chicken, sweet potatoes, and ground cumin, and then add the broth/stock, aji amarillo chile paste, tomatoes, and chopped poblano chile.
- While the stew simmers prep the garnishes - We like avocado, hard-cooked egg, chopped scallions and cilantro. Don't forget the lime wedges!
- Add the cooked mote into the stew - Simmer a few more minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
- Ladle into bowls and top with desired garnishes!
Do I have to use dried mote? No. You can use dried hominy/posole. The cooking process is similar. You can use canned hominy though the taste and texture will be different. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove the starch.
What can I use in place of a roasted poblano? My favorite is actually roasted Hatch green chile! If you're lucky enough to have some in your freezer, by all means use it. Canned Hatch chile is good in a pinch. You can substitute your favorite green chile or even a bell pepper.
What can I do with the leftover cooked mote? It freezes really well for a few months. Of course you can make this recipe again. You can add it to Ecuadorian mote pillo (eggs and mote) or mote sucio (dirty hominy).
Peruvian Chicken Stew with Giant Corn (estofado de pollo con mote) is super healthy, gluten free, and once the corn is cooked very quick and easy to make!
I love a dish that invites fresh garnishes, and this one does just that! The savory stew gets kicked-up-a-notch with the addition of sliced creamy avocado, fresh cilantro and scallions, hard boiled egg, and tangy lime wedges. It is fabulous leftover for lunch the next day, or frozen for future consumption...
Once the corn is cooked, this is a fairly quick and simple dish to prepare. I do hope you'll give it a try!