Seco, Arroz a la Peruana, and Friojoles Guisados

Warning:  today’s post is a long post since it includes 3 recipes!! If you plan to make these dishes, give yourself at least half a day.  This is more like a weekend recipe.  It takes a while to cook these, but believe me, it’s all worth it!!

No, I didn’t miraculously learn how to speak Spanish (I wish).  Today’s post is dedicated to the Peruvian dishes!!  Why Peruvian you may wonder.  Well, nothing complicated, my brother in law (Steve’s 2nd oldest brother) is engaged to a Peruvian woman!  They sent me couple of Peruvian recipes and also sent me some Peruvian spices so I have been waiting and planning to cook these recipes for a while!

Seco, is a traditional Peruvian stew, typically made with lamb shank, but I used beef for today’s recipe (due to someone in my family not liking the lamb too much, seriously, how can anyone not like lamb?!).  This stew uses a very traditional Peruvian pepper paste called Aji Amarillo – it comes in a paste form or the whole pepper (soaked in liquid).  This is a yellow/orange pepper that’s hot, but also has this fruity aftertaste, weird, right?  Unless you live in Florida, New York, or maybe Los Angeles, it’ll be difficult to find this.  I looked at a major Latin American market in Philadelphia and they didn’t have it.  However, do you know where I found one?  At Assi, Korean supermarket in North Wales, PA!!  You can also purchase this online. 

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This is what I found at Assi, the whole pepper Aji Amarillo (you can just use the food processor to grind them into paste).
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This is Aji Amarillo sent to me by my brother in law and his fiancé from Florida. 
 Arroz a la Peruana is very savory and aromatic Peruvian rice (you can just eat this rice by itself, it’s that good!),  and Friojoles Guisados is beans stewed with onions, cumin, bacon/salted pork and tomatoes. 

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Seco: This recipe was sent to me by my brother in law and his fiancéThis will probably serve about 6. 

6 lamb shanks, weighing approx, 3/4lb (325grams) each (you can substitute with beef or pork)
2 cups chicha de jora (corn beer) – I just used the regular beer
1 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons aji amarillo
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cilantro puree (use the food processor for this)
2 cups stock
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine beer, paprika, oregano, aji amarillo paste.  Trim lamb shanks and marinate in the beer mixture for at least 4 hours (half way through I flipped the meat so that the other side can be marinated too). 

In a large pot, heat a little of the oil and sear lamb shanks until golden brown on both sides.  Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, heat some more oil and sauté onion over medium heat, until translucent, about 3 minutes, add garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the cilantro puree and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add stock and bring to boil.  Put the lamb shanks back into the pot, cover and simmer on a very low heat until the meat is fork tender (about 2 hours) **When I added the stock, I also added the marinade (it was too good to throw it out). 

When the meat is cooked, stir through the remaining cilantro puree.  Serve with rice, yellow potatoes and Frijoles Guisados.

Frijoles Guisados:  about 10 servings.  I got this recipe from Johnson and Wales Culinary School website

8 ounces (225gr) bacon or salted pork, diced
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bunch cilantro, washed, stemmed, and chopped
1-1/2 pounds pinto beans, dry, soaked overnight (I used canned pinto beans)
1-1/2 quarts (1.4 liters) stocks, vegetable or chicken
4 tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon and add onion, garlic, cumin and half of the chopped cilantro.
Add beans and stock and simmer.
As beans begin to tenderize, add tomatoes, salt, pepper and the rest of the chopped cilantro. 

Arroz a la Peruana: Yields 4.  I found this recipe from this Peruvian recipe site.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup peas, hot
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 Tablespoon butter

Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic; sauté until soft, but do not brown.
Add the rice, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the liquid, salt and butter, stir.
Bring to a boil; cover, and reduce to low heat.
Cook the rice for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until just tender.
Taste, adjust salt as desired.  Fluff rice with a fork, then very gently fold in the peas. 

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My opinion: Extraordinary!!!  Yes, my hard labor has paid off!!  Loved the taste of cilantro, aji amarillo and other ingredients all blended into one outstanding flavor in Seco!!  The rice, as I said, can be eaten along, so flavorful!!  The beans are so complimentary to the rice and seco.  I added the sweet potato and some julienned carrots and orange bell peppers.  The sweet potatoes soaked up the sauce from seco and that was very tasty too!!

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