Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Re:visiting Peru | Seco de Pollo

My mother knows there aren't many Peruvian restaurants in Ohio, so she sent me an old Peruvian cookbook. Now, I'd rather have a Peruvian cook than a Peruvian cookbook, but I guess visas are hard to come by (unless you're willing to marry the guy).

Regardless, my mom's little gift inspired my recent desire to push Peruvian cuisine through my "Re: visiting Peru" articles.

With that in mind, I took the cookbook on a test-run right away, making the Seco de Pollo shown above.

Seco de Pollo is a delicious, cilantro-infused chicken dish served with peas, carrots, rice and potatoes. "Seco" literally means "dry" in Spanish, but (if you do it right) this dish is anything but, with moist chicken and flavorful starches.

If you want to reproduce this dish, you'll need -

  • 6 pieces of chicken
  • salt, black pepper, ground cumin (to taste)
  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • aji verde (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of blended cilantro
  • 3/4 cup of peas
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots
  • lime juice (about 1 lime's worth)

    1. season the chicken with salt, black pepper, and ground cumin
    2. fry chicken in large sauce pan until golden brown; set aside
    3. fry the onion, garlic, and aji verde on lower heat in same pan until onion is translucent
    4. add cilantro, peas, and carrots
    5. add chicken and cook on medium-low heat for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is done
    6. squeeze the juice of the lime into the pot once finished
    7. serve with rice and potatoes

Cilantro can be difficult to find fresh. Try to buy cilantro when it's cheap, pluck the leaves off the bunches, and blend it with a bit of water. You can also freeze pureed cilantro in an ice cube tray, keeping it fresh.

Aji verde might be a even more difficult to come by. "Aji" is a pepper indigenous to South America, which has a very distinctive taste. You can substitute jalapeño peppers if you can't find any version of aji in the Latin section of your grocery store ... but if you want to keep the recipe fully authentic, you can always order aji verde online from Amigo Foods or Latin Market.

I hope you try this version of the recipe ... and let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. hey Franca, I'm going to give this a try - looks very yummy and easy! but just to clarify: is aji verde the same as green peppers? I'll let you know how it turns out. what part of the chicken did you use? susan a.

  2. Hi Susan!

    Aji verde is a chili grown in northern Peru, and not exactly a "green pepper" you find at the market.

    I don't think the "real" aji verde is commercially available- most people grow it in their backyard in Peru- which is why I suggested using jalapeño peppers instead.

    It is very hot, and when it matures, it turns red or orange. It has a yummy, sweet flavor.

    You can also use aji amarillo, which is delicious and easier to find.

    The recipe calls for chicken breasts, but I used chicken thighs and legs. Either one works.

    This recipe is a bit "different"- not your typical use of cilantro.

    I hope you like it!

  3. Franca, I'll try this recipe very soon! My husband and I love Peruvian food, and we frequently eat at a tiny hole-in-the-wall-serving-fab-food Peruvian restaurant. We cook often, so we'll try it and report!

  4. Can't wait to hear what you think!
    I'm going to be making something with pork soon. If it turns out well, I'll post it.