Peruvian Chicken and Pasta

My husband and I recently returned from a vacation to five countries in South America. We were the most excited about Peru, because Machu Piccu has been a “bucket list” destination for what seems like an eternity.

There wasn’t one thing about Peru that wasn’t beautiful, delicious, and memorable. Except for their dog situation, but I’m leaving that off of the blog.

Machu Piccu was everything we knew it would be. But we also fell in love with the country and its beautiful people. Here are a few photos from Peru.

In anticipation of this trip, my daughters gifted me a cookbook for Christmas, entitled Peru, by Gaston Acurio, published in 2015.

There is a significant population of Italians in Peru, so some of the cuisine has a definite Italian flair to it. In fact, the recipe I’m making for this post is a pasta dish with chicken.

“The chicken is cooked slowly in the tomato sauce, which gives it a distinctive taste, and the addition of Huancaina sauce gives it a Creole touch.”

Two unique foods, at least to me, are used in this recipe. One is panca chile paste, and the other is Huancaina sauce. Panca chile paste smells exactly like ancho chile paste. Huancaina sauce is magical. It’s made with cream, queso fresco, and amarillo chile peppers.

In the future I’ll make Huancaina Sauce myself using Ali Amarillo pasta that I’ve found on Amazon. It’s unlikely I can find the actual yellow chile peppers.

Pasta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce
Tallarines Rojos con Pollo

1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, any variety
4 ounces vegetable oil
4 pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I cubed chicken breasts)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and grated
2 carrots, grated (mine were too coarsely grated)
2 tablespoons Panca Chili Paste
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth
2 1/4 pound linguine
1/2 ounce butter
Salt, Pepper

To serve
8 ounces Huancaina Sauce
2 ounces Parmesan cheese

Soak the dried mushrooms in a little warm water for 15 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another 3 tablespoons oil to the pan, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes over low heat until the onions have started to soften. Season with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes, carrots, chili paste, bay leaf, and soaked and drained mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the browned chicken pieces and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in a separate pan in plenty of salted water according to the package instructions until al denote. Drain and transfer to a shallow pan, add the butter and a little of the pasta sauce, and mix together well.

Divide the pasta between plates and spoon over the remaining sauce.

Serve with Huancaina sauce and Parmesan cheese.

This recipe is outstanding.

I could drink the Huancaina sauce. But I wont…

The panca chile paste taste similar to ancho chile paste. It supplied a deep-flavored richness to the sauce.

After making all of the photos, I mixed the fettuccine with the chicken, sauce, and Huancaina sauce, and it was best to me like that. The flavors were all meant to be together.

Note: In the description of this dish, the term “Creole” is used. The cookbook has a recipe for Creole sauce, or Salsa Criolla, and it’s a purée of onion, a limo chile pepper, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. So I don’t think Peruvian cuisine’s use of the term Creole has much to do with what we’re familiar with in the United States.

75 thoughts on “Peru

  • Mimi, what a great post! I’ve traveled in South America lots for business in the past but never made it to Peru. Now I wish I would have made time for a visit. I love your images and hope there’s more to come.
    Your pasta, I’ve got to make it. I can’t find the key ingredients here but will see if I can make them from scratch. It looks and I’m sure tastes divine. Thanks for sharing.

    • I couldn’t believe how good all of these flavors are together! Seriously I think you could substitute ancho chile paste, and if you can find Amarillo pepper paste that would be great. I’ve gotten it on Amazon, but I don’t know what you’re able to find.

    • Well if you love ceviche, that’s an exciting part of their repertoire. The cookbook has a lot of chicken blood, testicles, and other such things, which worried my husband to no end. All of the chile peppers were so fun to try. There are many more varieties not included in this post.

  • I was in Peru 20 years ago and I loved it. It was quite an adventure. Your photos are beautiful and that pasta looks great.

    • Thanks, Gerlinde. Well I imagine it hasn’t changed much. I gorged on ceviche, and their chorizo was outstanding!

  • Sweet Heavens, Mimi ! I am in love with Peruvian dishes and plan to go there for a vacation to explore the beauties there !!! Thank you so very much for this post !!!! Love it !!!

    • I hope you get there – what a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience. And the food really is so varied and tasty.

    • I didn’t bother going to an Italian restaurant, but even at the steakhouses there were a lot of Italian dishes in Brazil and Argentina as well. It all was a wonderful experience.

  • Now I’m sold on Machu Picchu! I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now and it sounds like it is doable- as long as the foot path to the top is wide enough so I won’t be paralyzed with fright (what is you opinion on that)? Plus, your recipe looks delicious!

    • Machu Piccu wasn’t hard at all. If I can do it, anybody can. Seriously. And it’s a minor hike once you’re bussed to the top of the road. You’re never on the edge of a cliff. I understand that fear! But it’s so worth it no matter what.

    • I was just looking at a friend’s IG photos from Bolivia. Wow! So much to see in the world. We knew Machu Piccu would be wonderful, but a big surprise was seeing Patagonia. Another one to put on the bucket list!

  • Peruvian cuisine has become quite trendy here and I’ve heard it’s really delicious (though I’ve never tasted it). Your dish looks and sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing the photographs from your trip! So fascinating! (By the way, aji panca are amazing deep-flavoured dried chillies. I bought about half a kilo a long time ago and still love them. They don’t have the smokey “in your face” side of some Mexican smoked chillies but very deep mysterious flavours. You’ve made me think I should use them more often!)

    • We actually went to a Peruvian restaurant in Miami before heading down to South America! My ceviche was incredible. All of the flavors of the chile peppers that were served and the sauces, like Huancaina, were fabulous. The Aji panca and Amarillo are definitely wonderful and flavorful. You’re right – they’re definitely not in-your-face!

  • Some friends are going to Peru the end of this month, so I printed off your post to share with them. (And to drool over your recipe and photos again….:) Thanks, Mimi!

  • Your photos are the MOST beautiful! The dish you made looks incredible! I am jealous of your spectacular trip and happy that you left off the dog situation, actually; I don’t handle things like that very well..

    • No, I could hardly contain myself. It was really hard to see past their dog situation. My girlfriend started our local SPCA 20 years ago and I texted her to see if she’d take on a spay-neuter program for all of Peru and she wasn’t interested! I never saw anyone petting or touching a dog, either. Like, they’re really not in the pet category. Very strange and sad.

  • Lynne and I can’t wait to get to Machu Piccu either. Even more so now having seen your photos and read about your trip. It’s on our bucket list! This looks like an amazing recipe I haven’t made any Peruvian dishes before so I’m grateful thanks.

    • You definitely need to work on going. It’s definitely a travel highlight of my life. Peruvian flavors are really bright and wonderful, just like the scenery and the people!

  • I’ve really been enjoying your Peruvian photos on Instagram, and I am excited to try this recipe, although am surprised it has no potatoes! I’m a big fan of aji amarillo and aji panca, but have nevertheless heard of the huancaina sauce! Peru is on my bucket list but this year, I will only get as far as Santiago and Rapa Nui. Did you get to either? Any recommendations?

  • First, your photos are absolutely stunning…any one of them could be on the cover of a magazine. Your recipe sounds great and the next time we go to south Florida, I’ll try to find those two sauces. There are several Peruvian restaurants in Miami that can probably tell me where I can buy them.

    • Oh, I wish you could! It would be fun to play with the actual fresh chile peppers. You need to visit MP definitely. So incredible, fascinating, and surreal!

  • What a wonderful vacation! All the beautifully colorful photos are just a taste of what you actually experienced, I’m sure, but they are stunning! And the recipe sounds delicious. i’m sure you have come home with some fabulous memories. How nice!

  • Such a colorful people – I use to knit and love the yarns you’ve pictured. Never eaten Peruvian food or been to Peru but I know I would love the cuisine – spicy and full of flavor! The “Italian” chicken looks pretty good. Don’t you just love Amazon for unusual ingredients – and then you usually receive it within a couple of days!

    • I order so many international gourmet products from amazon it’s silly! But otherwise I can’t get my hands on them unless I travel to a place like NYC. I knit as well, and I was really taken by the natural products they use to dye their wool. So much fun to watch.

  • Peru is on my bucket list also. My mom and dad took a trip there many, many moons ao, and always said it was one of their favorite places they’d ever been to. This dish looks wonderful — I’m very interested in Huancaina sauce. I’ll have to look into that. Lovely post.

    • H sauce is so good! Cheesy, creamy, and with a hint of mild chile peppers. I wish I could make it from scratch, to avoid the preservatives.

  • I remember seeing your pics on Inst of Machu Pichu <3 I travelled there about 13 years ago! I'm glad you got to visit Peru. DiYes I remember now there were a ton of Italian restaurants in some parts of Peru, so many that I thought it was weird. I never saw this dish though, it looks like the perfect fusion between Italian and Peruvian.

    • It truly is! Fusion cuisines are so interesting, although some get a bit weird for me! I am so glad we got to see Peru. What a beautiful country!

    • Oh, you’ll love it! There’s nothing quite like it that I know of! Wish I could get the fresh chile peppers… maybe I’ll see if I can locate aji amarillo plants!

  • Have yet to make it to Peru. Machu Piccu is a bucket list item for us, too. Sounds like a fabulous trip! Love the pictures. Oh, and a pretty darn good recipe, too. :-)

    • The pasta dish was even better tasting than I though it would be! When you’re in Peru, check out Patagonia…

    • It took me 62 years to get there! Hopefully you’ll make it at a much younger age! It is so worth visiting.

    • Oh, it’s so good! I just love trying new chile peppers, no matter in what form, and these two didn’t disappoint.

  • What an amazing experience. The colours are wonderful and the photos made me smile with there warmth and beauty. I have not tried Peruvian food but from this recipe ai think I would like it a lot… lovely!

    • Thank you. It was quite exotic. It’s not at all like visiting Ireland or France! A lot of poverty that I have a hard time seeing. But all of the good parts, like the food and scenery, were fabulous!

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