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.
- 1/2 lb. papa seca
- 3 cups water for soaking
- 1 lb. pork shoulder, skinless and boneless, but into 1″ cubes
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 teaspoons garlic paste
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon aji amarillo
- 1 teaspoon aji panca
- salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 2 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1/4 cup red wine such as Malbec
- steamed rice
- peanuts, cilantro, and salsa criolla for garnish
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a large pot to cook the stew.
- Toast the papa seca in a dry skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes
- Soak in 3 cups of cold water for 30 minutes, strain and set aside
- Season the pork cubes with salt, pepper, and cumin, and set aside
- Brown the pork in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium to high heat, about 15 minutes, work in batches if necessary, remove the pieces of pork from the pot and set aside
- In the same pot, make the sofrito by sautéing the garlic paste, diced onion, aji amarillo, and aji panca with 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat, cook until onions are translucent
- Add the peanut butter and strained papa seca to the onion sofrito, stir to mix well
- Add 3 cups of beef stock, the cloves, cinnamon, anise, pieces of pork, and stir all the ingredients
- Simmer covered until pork is fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours total. stir occasionally to prevent the stew from sticking to the pot, and add more stock if the level is reduced too much
- In the last 10 minutes, add 1/4 cup of red wine and stir to mix well, remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes
- Remove the cloves, cinnamon stick, and star anise
- Serve in individual bowls over a bed of steamed rice
- Garnish with roasted peanuts, salsa criolla, and cilantro
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.