Aji de Gallina – ( Chicken in Spicy Nut Sauce )

This is a delicious, traditional Peruvian chicken stew in a spicy, nutty cheese sauce. It takes time, but is well worth it! I serve this over boiled white rice and baby yellow potatoes.”

Serves: 4


1 – 3 l/2- to 4/lb. Chicken (cut in quarters)

5 cups Cold Water
8 slices Fresh White Bread (Homemade-type)

2 cups Milk

2/3 cup Olive Oil

1 cup Onions (finely chopped)

1 tspn. Garlic (finely chopped)

1/4 cup Red Chili Paste (or 1/4 cup dried hontaka chilies, seeded and ground in a blender or pulverized with a mortar and pestle)

1 cup Shelled Walnuts (ground in a blender or pulverized with a mortar and pestle)

2 tspn. Salt

1/4 tspn. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tbls. Annatto (achiote) Oil ( see recipe Annatto Oil)

2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 lbs. Boiling Potatoes, peeled (sliced 1/2 inch thick, freshly boiled and hot)

3 Hard-Cooked Eggs (each cut in 6 to 8 lengthwise wedges)

2 ripe Black Olives or

2 Fresh Hot Red Chilies (stemmed, seeded, deribbed and cut lengthwise into strips 1/8 inch wide)


1. In a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan, bring the chicken and 5 cups of cold water to a boil over high heat, and remove all scum from the surface. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the chicken for 30 minutes, or until it is tender but not falling apart. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set the stock aside for another use. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin with a small knife or your fingers. Cut or pull the meat away from the bones. Discard the bones, and cut the chicken meat into strips 1/8 inch wide and 1 to 11/2 inches long.

2. Cut the crusts from the bread and tear the slices into small pieces. Place them in a bowl, add 1 cup of the milk and let them soak for 5 minutes. Then, with a fork or your hands, mash the bread and milk to a thick paste.

3. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat and add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent but not brown. Add the chili paste or ground chilies, walnuts, salt and pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the annatto oil and bread paste, then gradually add the remaining cup of milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken and cheese, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the chicken is heated through.

Assemblly: Spread the boiled potato slices side by side in a large casserole or deep platter and spoon the chicken and sauce over them. Garnish the top with hard-cooked eggs, olives and chili strips.

Note: Peruvian cooks blanch and skin the walnutsóand you may, too, if you have the patience. Drop shelled walnuts into boiling water and let them soak for an hour. Drain and peel them, one at a time.