Last Tuesday, 18 Reasons hosted Pisco Trail’s first Pop-up Dinner of 2012 and to celebrate Spring I prepared a traditional Peruvian Lamb Stew — Seco de Cordero. Slow cooked with a lot of love in a cilantro sauce and sofrito with aji amarillo, it was savory, warm, hearty, and a little spicy — the perfect meal for a rainy night in SF.
18 Reasons’ new space on 18th Street has a great commercial kitchen, and it was all mine on Monday night so that I could prepare the stew for Tuesday. And though I’ve enjoyed making this lamb stew many times before, this was the first time I was preparing enough for about 40 servings, so I had to scale the recipe accordingly.
This meant that cooking time would take a lot longer, but I was fortunate enough to have a butcher from Bi-Rite Market help me prep. It was pretty amazing that the hours flew by as we talked about our passion food and how we got started on our culinary paths. As I stirred the pot, the smell of the lamb and spices filled the kitchen, and I knew the stew was going to turn out just right.
Throughout the two-hour dinner on Tuesday night, I really enjoyed talking to the guests, some of which asked for seconds or were curious about the spices in the stew. A couple of Peruvians in the house vouched for the authentic taste of the dish, and another guest even asked when I was opening my own restaurant. And then it happened. For a brief moment, the Afro-Peruvian music playing in the background mixed with the aroma and flavors of the stew transported everyone there to Lima. I looked around, smiled, took it all in, and just for that moment, I was home.
A special thank you to 18 Reasons for the opportunity to share the food and culture I love with their community, to the event organizers and volunteers for their support, and the butchers for their help — I could not have done this event without all of you.