When British people think of South America, it’s often a content of tropical heat and Amazonian jungles. But a trip to Peru offers that and much more, with an incredibly varied terrain having led to a rich and complex cuisine based on the patchwork of microclimates that make up this fascinating country.
Carapulcra is a modern adaptation of traditional Andean dish – a region of sunny but fresh days and bitterly cold nights. The ancient cultures developed unique ways of preserving food (like this papa seca) and hearty stews perfect for the coldest of winter nights, wherever you are in the world!
- 250g papa seca (dried, crystallised potatoes)
- 500g boneless pork
- 50g ground peanuts
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp aji amarillo paste
- 2 tbsp aji panca paste
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 1/2l sunflower or vegetable oil (for deep frying)
- pinch of ground pepper
- 0.5l beef stock (from cube is fine)
- half a cup of vegetable oil
- glug of port (optional)
- 2 squares of bitter dark chocolate (optional)
- white rice
- Start by toasting the papa seca. Over a medium heat, take a dry pan and stir the papas until they become a rich golden colour – this should take a few minutes. Once ready, place in a large bowl and add cold water to cover. This will need to soak for about 30 minutes.
- Whilst they are soaking you can get on with the rest of the prep. Start by cutting the pork into bitesized chunks.
- Take a small bowl and mix the half of the aji panca, aji amarillo, cumin, and garlic, adding pepper and salt to taste. Add this mixture to the pork and mix well to coat in the marinade.
- Add a glug of the oil to the pan and stir fry the pork until it’s browning. Work in batches if necessary, setting aside until you’ve browned it all.
- By now your papa seca should have soaked for around 30 minutes. Use a colander to drain the water and set aside for a minute.
- Take a large saucepan. Add to it any oil left from the frying pan, as well as the rest of the aji panca, aji amarillo, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes of a medium heat. This is known as creating a ‘sofrito’, the flavours on which the stew will be based.
- Add the stock, wine, and papa seca along with the pieces of pork. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, over a medium heat until the pork is tender, around 1.5 hours.
- Once you’re coming to the end of the 1.5 hours, add the peanuts and stir. If you’re adding the bittersweet chocolate and port, you should also add in now. These add an extra complex sweetness to the dish and are really delicious additions!
- Serve the carapulcra alongside fluffy white rice. You can also serve it with ‘sopa seca’, a traditional noodle dish which we’ll be adding a recipe for in the future!