“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!”
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.
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).
I used my pressure cooker to soften the dried corn. It took about 45 minutes on high pressure to bring it to al dente – still firm to the tooth. 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. 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…
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 1/2 cups (cooked) to the pot. Once the corn is cooked, the dish comes together quickly. That means the second time you make it, it’ll be a snap! Blacken the poblano chile (if using), and boil your eggs. 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.
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!
Delicious Peruvian flavors come together in this somewhat simple, approachable, and affordable dish. The mote brings earthy texture and the aji amarillo chile provides sunny, sweet heat to this healthy chicken and sweet potato stew...
2 hrPrep Time
30 minCook Time
2 hr, 30 Total Time
- 15 ounces mote pelado*
- 1 poblano chile, fire roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 2 small sweet potatoes (about 3 cups peeled and cubed)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons aji amarillo paste*
- 1 cup 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
If you've not already done so, get that mote cooked! You want it al dente - firm to the bite - not soft.
Blacken that poblano chile (if using). Place the blackened chile in a paper bag or covered container to steam.
Boil the eggs to hard cooked, but not overcooked!
In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion. Saute 1 to 2 minutes. Add chicken. Saute until nearly cooked (edges beginning to brown).
Add cubed sweet potatoes and chicken. Stir. Cook 5 minutes.
Add flour, and cook until flour begins to brown and smell toasty - about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the aji amarillo paste*, broth/stock, and petite diced tomatoes. Stir well to combine. When mixture comes to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook until sweet potatoes and corn are tender but not soft.
Meanwhile, finish preparing the garnishes - slice the egg and avocado, cut chop the cilantro and scallions, wedge the lime.
Ladle the stew into bowls. Top with garnishes of choice. Enjoy!
If you must, substitute hominy or posole.
If you don't love the heat, substitute green bell pepper or an anaheim chile roasted.