Ají de Gallina: Peruvian Spicy Creamed Chicken

Spicy Creamed Chicken Aji de Gallina

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
843 Calories
34g Fat
81g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 843
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 175mg 58%
Sodium 583mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 81g 30%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 136mg 679%
Calcium 218mg 17%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1623mg 35%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Peruvian cuisine is starting to gain recognition, thanks to a new generation of chefs who are digging into their roots and bringing back the classic dishes of their youth to a broader audience of adventurous eaters around the world. Many of these chefs are the so-called first generation in the United States and have had the chance to learn firsthand all the classic dishes from their moms and abuelas (grandmothers).

Ají de gallina is one of these traditional dishes: Poached chicken slathered in a spicy and creamy nut-based sauce is served over white rice and boiled potatoes. Bright yellow—amarillo—in color, thanks to the famous ají amarillo, and rich from the unusual sauce of ground walnuts, this dish is hearty, filling, and delicious. Don't be intimidated by how complex it sounds, the recipe is broken down into bite-sized pieces and is well worth the effort.

Heavily influenced by Asian immigration into the country, Peruvian cuisine nowadays is a melting pot of Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, African, Andean, and local techniques, flavors, and ingredients. Ají de gallina is no exception as it may find its origin in a sweeter Catalonian dish that later evolved into what we know now as a savory dish combining European, South American, and Asian ingredients.

Since finding ají amarillo at your local supermarket might be difficult, go straight to any Latin markets or Hispanic bodegas in your area: If they don't carry fresh ají, buy frozen or jarred paste. They both will yield a flavorful dish. If you can't find ají amarillo in any form, replace with Scotch bonnet or habanero; their fruity and spicy flavors will make fantastic substitutions.

"It's a mild, creamy chicken dish that was delicious over rice and definitely soul-warming, especially on a cold night. I had never worked with aji amarillo peppers and didn't want too spicy of a dish for my family, so I only used 3 peppers, but next time I think I'll add more." —Carrie Parente

Ají de Gallina: Peruvian Spicy Creamed Chicken Tester Image
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Ingredients

  • 4 yellow potatoes

  • 4 slices white bread

  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more if needed

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 3 to 4 yellow ají peppers

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts

  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 

  • 3 cups cooked white rice 

  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, quartered

  • 10 black olives, pitted and halved

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for ají de gallina spicy creamed chicken
     The Spruce
  2. Cook the yellow potatoes in salted water until tender when pierced with a fork.

    Potatoes boiling in a pot
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  3. Let cool, peel, cut into quarters, and set aside.

    Boiled, cut potatoes
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  4. Place the bread in a small bowl and pour the 3/4 cup of evaporated milk over it to soak. Set aside.

    Sliced bread soaking in milk
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  5. Place the chicken in a pot with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

    Chicken breasts boiling
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  6. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is just barely cooked through.

    Chicken breasts boiling
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  7. Set chicken aside to cool, reserving the stock.

    Chicken breasts and broth
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  8. Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups.

    Bowl of broth with strainer
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  9. Shred the cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces.

    Shredded chicken
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  10. Remove stems and seeds from the peppers.

    Sliced yellow peppers
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  11. In a blender, process the peppers with vegetable oil. Blend until smooth.

    Blended peppers with vegetable oil
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  12. Add to a medium saucepan the vegetable oil and ají mixture. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and then cook until the onion is soft.

    Sautéed peppers, onions, and garlic
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  13. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.

    Sautéed onion mix on a plate
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  14. Add the soaked bread, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese to the blender and process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons evaporated milk, or even some of the strained chicken stock, if the mixture is not smooth.

    Processed bread mixture
     The Spruce
  15. Add the cooked onion mixture into the blender and process briefly until well combined.

    Onion and bread mixture
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  16. Place the yellow mixture into a pan and add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken stock. Stir together until combined.

    Onion mixture added to broth in a pan
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  17. Bring the sauce to a low simmer. Add in the chicken and heat until warmed through, adding more chicken stock if the sauce is too thick.

    Chicken breast added to creamy broth mix
     The Spruce
  18. One portion of chicken goes over 1/2 cup of cooked white rice, garnished with a few quarters of yellow potatoes, a couple of quartered hard-boiled eggs, and black olives. Enjoy.

    Spicy creamed chicken with rice
     The Spruce