Last Sunday I prepared a Peruvian tasting menu for some dear friends, which gave me the opportunity to try new techniques, recipes, and presentations. In other words, it was my chance to be playful and experiment in the kitchen. With Novalima’s Afro-Peruvian rhythms on the radio, we toasted to our reunion with a Negroni Andino aperitif — Pisco infused with papa seca, Campari, and Vermouth Chinato. Next up, a Trio of Anticuchos, but not just any kebabs, these were a trio of shrimp, pork, and potatoes, all cooked sous vide and served over different colorful and spicy sauces. To cool the palate, a cold Gazpacho soup served as a reminder that tomatoes are originally from Peru and Mexico, not Spain or Italy.
And then I served an empty plate with a little bit of pickled red onions, or Salsa Criolla, which left everyone wondering what the main dish was going to be.
While we were enjoying the aperitif, appetizer, and soup, I had been steaming the main dish in a large pot, and one by one I delivered small, rustic, gift baskets to each of my guests. On each plate was a bundle of parchment paper, in the shape of a large teardrop, tied together by string, warm, moist, and aromatic, it made everyone wonder what was inside. They untied the knots, spread the paper open, and smiled. I explained that the Juane is a traditional dish from the Peruvian Amazon, very much like a tamal but made with rice, chicken, and spices. And like the tamal it is wrapped in banana leafs and steamed.
So this was my version of a Juane, made with Arroz con Pollo, wrapped in parchment paper, served with a side of Salsa Criolla, and presented as a gift. Because that is what cooking has always been for me — an intimate gift from one person to another.
- 8 parchment paper squares, 15″ x 15″
- 8 pieces of string, 15″ long
- 2-4 cups chicken stock
- 1 large pot for steaming the Juane
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 cup green peas
- 2 limes, cut in quarters
- julienned fresh aji amarillo or habanero for garnish
- cut the parchment paper squares in half
- on a flat surface, arrange 2 halves in the shape of a plus sign
- place one chicken thigh and 2 scoops of rice in the center of the 2 halves
- add 2 tablespoons green peas, a cilantro sprig, and mix in with the rice
- close the parchment paper by bringing the ends together towards the center, twisting the ends, and forming a bundle the shape of a large teardrop
- tie the top of the bundle with string and set aside
- repeat until you have 8 bundles
- add just enough chicken stock to cover the bottom of the pot
- place the bundles in the pot and steam over medium heat for 30 minutes, adding more chicken stock if needed
- serve on plates garnished with salsa criolla, julienned hot peppers, cilantro, and a quarter lime
- untie the bundles to open, and squeeze lime juice over the Arroz con Pollo
- discard the parchment paper if desired
Use a steaming tray or basket to suspend the bundles above the chicken stock to steam.