Friday, September 27, 2013

Pollo Saltado, Deconstructed

What a wonderful week we've had. I am chasing the baby all day long, and that is not always easy. Sometimes I can hear my bones creak when I stand up with him. But I am getting used to this new life with just two kids. The truth is, we have a two-kid house. All those years with lots of kids, sports, endless meals and snacks, music and messes and coats and shoes and dirt and chaos: that was what I wanted. I was thankful for all of it.

But I didn't know any other life. I didn't realize that with each new baby, my work increased. A lot. And so did my husband's. It's a luxury to have a large family. We sort of assumed, when we started having kids, that at some point we would move into a bigger house. We did build an addition and remodel the kitchen. But here is where we stayed. It's not what I pictured. But our kids, oh our kids are such an enormous blessing. I'd rather have them than the finest mansion in the world.

This new life, with a home-schooled 7th grade daughter and a busy, lovable toddler, is strangely calm. It wouldn't seem calm, though, if you popped in at suppertime. Then, the baby might be clinging to my legs, hollering loudly, while I tried to cook supper. Nate would be wandering through the kitchen like my personal troubador, playing and singing his latest song. Charming, but sort of in my way. Anna Kate would probably be off somewhere either practicing piano or reading a book. I'd have to call for her to come and help.

Last night, I decided to try a new take on Pollo Saltado. Literally, it means "Chicken Jumped" (Although an MK friend just told me the meaning is closer to "Tossed Chicken"). It's my all-time favorite Peruvian food. Well actually, I prefer Lomo Saltado, the beef version, but the pollo is a close second. You can google the recipe online. The recipe I found had ingredients I've never used, like soy sauce. Soy sauce, in a Peruvian recipe? Not my style, but go for it if you want to.

This is the Pollo Saltado I made last week. It takes quite of bit of chopping and stir-frying, something I don't have time for these days.

This is the trouble-maker who is helping me simplify my recipes.

These are my last two babies. If you had told me, after Julia was born, that I would have two more children - a girl and a boy! - I'd have thought you were nuts. Oh thank the Lord for for His good plans!

Deconstructed Pollo Saltado. SO MUCH EASIER than the stir-fried version, though I must admit not quite as yummy. Close, though.


First, make your rice. I'm not going to tell you how to do this. However, I recommend brown rice.

Then, scrub your potatoes for Home Fries. I used 3 large russets. Pierce the potatoes and microwave on High until done. Slice them into thin (but not too thin) wedges, and fry them in olive oil till brown and crispy. This takes a surprisingly long time, at least 5 minutes per side. Turn potatoes to crisp both sides. Salt and pepper to taste.

While potatoes and rice are cooking, get your chicken ready:

4 chicken thighs (with the skin removed)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 T. aji panca chili paste, or one diced fresh chili
dash of hot red pepper (to taste, I like it spicy)

Blend the spices together and rub onto skinless chicken pieces.
Grill till done (170 degrees internal temp). On my grill, at medium high heat, this takes about 15 minutes per side.

While chicken is grilling, prep your other veggies:

1 onion (I use red onions all the time, as they're supposed to be highest in antioxidants).
1-2 tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Slice the onion and tomatoes into chunky wedges. Slice the green pepper however you want to.
Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a big knife, take off the peel, and chop it up.
Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet, add onions, stir-fry till onions are clear.
Add tomatoes and pepper, stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
Add garlic and stir till that is done, about 1 minute.
If you like (this is from the online recipe, but I didn't do this step) add 1 T. vinegar, 1 T. honey, and 1 T. soy sauce to the veggies. The online recipe had these ingredients in a marinade for the chicken, but I didn't have time for that.
Salt to taste if you like.

While you're busy with the veggies, you're going to have to be watching and turning the potatoes. You may have to make them in batches. So I hope you have help with the chicken on the grill. At this point it should be done.

To serve:

Adjust seasonings (salt and pepper)

Scoop some rice onto the plate
Get the chicken off the grill, place it on the rice
Add the veggies and the hot fries to the plate.

This recipe served two adults and two children. 

Enjoy! Peruvian food is the best in the world. 

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