Carapulcra (Papa Seca & Pork Stew)

Carapulcra, Papa Seca & Pork Stew

Carapulcra, Papa Seca & Pork Stew

The Carapulcra is a potato and pork stew that was first prepared by the Incas over 500 years ago. What gives this dish its unique flavor and consistency is its main ingredient, papa seca, or dehydrated potatoes. Slow cooked with hot peppers, peanuts, cloves, cinnamon, anise, pork, and red wine, the result is a stew that is hearty, spicy, and complex — a true mix of Inca, European, and African flavors.

The Incas cultivated hundreds of types of potatoes, and they dehydrated some of them as a preservation technique and to reduce the water weight for ease of transport. The original Carapulcra was also made with Charqui, a dried meat or jerky. But over the centuries, Europeans and Afro-Peruvians added spices and ingredients that transformed the dish into its current incarnation.

In July of 2016, I had the pleasure of preparing this dish at Tales of the Cocktail, for the Peruvian Spirited Dinner, where over 60 guests enjoyed Peruvian cuisine from the Coast, Andes, and Amazon, all paired with Pisco cocktails. And in February of 2017, this dish was one of 5 courses in the Afro-Peruvian Creole Feast I prepared at 18 Reasons to celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco.

  • 1 lb. papa seca
  • 6 cups water for soaking
  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder, skinless and boneless, cut into 1″ cubes
  • canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons garlic paste
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons aji amarillo
  • 2 teaspoons aji panca
  • salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • cheesecloth bouquet with 2 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 2 star anise
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine such as Malbec
  • steamed rice
  • roasted peanuts, cilantro, and salsa criolla for garnish

In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large pot to cook the stew.

  1. Toast papa seca in a dry skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes
  2. Soak papa seca in cold water for 30 minutes, strain and set aside
  3. Season pork cubes with salt, pepper, and cumin; set aside
  4. Brown pork cubes in a large pot with canola oil over medium to high heat, work in batches if necessary
  5. Remove the pieces of pork from the pot and set aside
  6. In the same pot, make onion sofrito by sautéing the garlic paste, diced onion, aji amarillo, and aji panca with canola oil over medium heat, cook until onions are translucent
  7. Add strained papa seca, peanut butter, 6 cups of beef stock, and cheesecloth bouquet with spices, stir to mix well and make sure the meat is covered by the liquid; add more stock if needed
  8. Simmer covered until pork is fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours total cooking time, stir occasionally to prevent the stew from sticking to the pot; add more stock if needed
  9. In the last 10 minutes, add red wine, stir to mix well
  10. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes, discard the cheesecloth bouquet
  11. Serve in individual bowls over a bed of steamed rice
  12. Garnish with roasted peanuts, salsa criolla, and cilantro

8 servings.


To make the garlic paste, purée peeled garlic cloves with olive oil using an immersion blender. For the beef stock, I used Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, 1 teaspoon for each cup of water.