Red Chimichurri

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When my husband and I visited Argentina in 2019, I was served the well known green chimichurri in restaurants, as well as a red version. Yet I kept forgetting to look it up. Here’s what the traditional green looks like.

But finally today, I googled, and up came a Hank Shaw recipe for red chimichurri. His blog is Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and he is a James Beard award-winning author and former chef.

On his blog: “ If it’s wild game, fish, or edible wild plants and mushrooms, you’ll find it here.”

Mr. Shaw has written multiple cookbooks, my favorite titles being “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and “Buck, Buck, Moose!” I don’t own his cookbooks, mostly because I’m not a hunter, and I don’t actively fish or forage in Oklahoma, but I do enjoy his blog.

Shaw recommends chopping everything by hand, otherwise the chimichurri will turn a strange color. I think we’ve all learned with paints that red and green don’t blend together well!

Chimichurri is typically offered alongside steaks.

Red Chimichurri
Recipe by Hank Shaw

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 or 2 small hot chiles, minced
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped (I used a 6.52 ounce jar Piquillo peppers)
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, lightly packed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked or paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mix the vinegar with the minced garlic, shallot, hot pepper and roasted red pepper and let this sit for 10 minutes or so to mellow out.

Mix all the remaining ingredients together and let the sauce sit for at least a few minutes, or, better yet, an hour, before serving at room temperature. There were six Piquillo peppers in the jar. I first gently rinsed and dried them before adding to the chimichurri.

Chimichurri, whether red or green, is a fantastically fresh and flavorful condiment. I could eat it with a spoon.

Try it on steak, but also try it on fish and shrimp and lamb and eggs….

My only suggestion with this chimichurri is to finely chop the parsley!

Uchucuta Sauce

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At our first breakfast in Cusco, Peru, when staying at the Hotel Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, there was lovely display of a green sauce with little clay cups for self-serving. I love just about everything green, and I’m addicted to condiments, so I put some on my eggs. I started small not knowing the heat level (see the little blob of green on my egg?! I went back for more.

What was especially nice, for me, was that a recipe was propped up next to the sauce.

It turned out the sauce was fairly mild, so during our time in Peru pretty much everything I ate got slathered with this stuff!

I took a photo of the recipe to I could recreate it at home. I had no idea how challenging that would be. The main ingredient is sachatomates, also known as tamarillos. I happened to have taken a photo of a tamarillo tree in Cuzco, without knowing what the fruits were. And, in a hotel room in Cartagena there were tamarillos in a bowl.

I recently discovered that another name for these are tree tomatoes, and ordered a box from Tropical Fruit Box, out of Miami, Florida. They sell quite an assortment of fruits! (What’s trending now are pink pineapples!) But, when I compare the photos, are they the same fruit?

My other stumbling block was finding green rocoto chile peppers. When you google their images, this is what you get: Only red.

When I looked for the peppers on Amazon, I found only red sauces, no green.

Obviously this is a green sauce, so I’m not going to add a red chile pepper paste to it, but I bought some just for fun. (It’s super hot!!) I decided instead to substitute jalapenos.

The next problem is huacatay, pronounced “wah-ka-tay.” It’s also known as Peruvian black mint. Since I didn’t have any of this mint, I bought a jar of the paste.

I have cilantro, peanuts, and salt and pepper, so I moved on with this Peruvian salsa, fingers crossed. Here is the recipe provided at the hotel’s restaurant.

Uchucuta Sauce

4 sachatomates
1 green rocoto chile pepper
100 grams cilantro
100 grams Peruvian black mint
100 grams peanuts
Salt, pepper

Peel, de-seed and dice the sachatomates.
Boil and dice the chiles.
Grind all of the ingredients until they form a sauce.
Leave the mixture thicken for 2 hours.

My first issue with these sachatomates/tamarillos/tree tomatoes, is that they cannot be peeled with a normal peeler, so I sliced them lengthwise in quarters, removed the seeds, and did my best with my knife to gather the flesh only. You can see that the flesh is thin.

I then boiled the diced jalapenos for a minute, as per the directions, weighed out the cilantro and peanuts.

I placed the fruit flesh in the food processor jar, along with the drained jalapenos, then added the cilantro and a tablespoon of the mint paste.

Then it was the peanuts, salt and pepper. I pulsed away, not wanting to make it too smooth, although I’ve since seem some photos of Uchucuta that looks like green soup!

In the recipe, a batán is recommended, which to me must be an equivalent of a molcajete, so I used mine to make the salsa a little smoother and greener.

This is what one looks like. Photo from Cuzcoeats.com

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I made eggs and potatoes, which are eaten with uchucuta sauce, also known as uchukuta. Meats are also recommended for this condiment.

After tasting the sauce, it was so mild that I added another jalapeno, and it was still mild.

But it’s good! I just wish I had some mint, even if it isn’t Peruvian black mint.

And, it turns out, that these hard-to-find sachatomates aren’t even that important to this sauce. Oh well. Was this still fun? You betcha.

It’s been so long since we were in Peru that I don’t know if the taste is the same, but I doubt it. And in other recipes, I see feta cheese, and no sachatomates. Interesting.

I have about 30 more sachatomates to eat. They’re good, really tart, but good vitamin C to last the whole pandemic!

My friend took some and turned them into a salsa, which was delicious!

Pisco Sour

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Last year, my husband and I took a major trip through Central and South American countries. It had been our dream to visit Machu Piccu In Peru and we finally did.

After getting to Cusco right in time for lunch, I was handed my first Pisco sour. After one sip, I handed it off to my husband, who loves strong drinks.

So after that experience, I didn’t seek them out. At least I’d had a respectful sip!

Pisco is a clear brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. It reminds me of grappa, which you won’t be surprised that I also don’t like.

Peru and Chile both claim the pisco sour as their national drink. Ironically, the most pisco sours offered to us were in Brazil. Here is the staff making pisco sours in Rio de Janeiro, at the Copacabana Palace Hotel in town.

But then, when visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue, I was a bit parched (honestly, it was hot hot hot) and I ordered a pisco sour. And it was fabulous! Totally different. Look at all those limes! Unfortunately I never found another one like it.

Pisco Capel is the variety I can purchase where I live. Here is a nice description of it from Market View Liquor’s website:

There’s a story, that when Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, drank a pisco sour in Valparaiso, Chile, he supposedly said, “That’s good, but… next time I’ll have a beer.”

Pisco Sour
Makes 2 drinks

4 ounces Capel Pisco
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 egg whites
4 drops Angostura Bitters, regular flavor

I used my handy dandy electric citrus juicer to squeeze the limes, plus more, cause freshly squeezed lime juice really comes in handy.

Place all ingredients in a blender jar or shaker jar. Blend until smooth and foamy. Pour in to glasses neat, or glasses with ice, if you prefer.

Serve immediately.

If you don’t want your pisco sours on ice, make sure all of the important ingredients are chilled first.

I actually really liked this ratio of ingredients. I wouldn’t want the drink any sweeter, stronger, or more tart.

Peru

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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 feral 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.

Pork Amarillo

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“IF THERE WERE A CHILE TO TASTE LIKE SUNSHINE, THIS WOULD BE IT.”

How can you pass up a description like that?!!

Back when I discovered the chile pepper paste Gochujang, I spied another international paste called Aji Amarillo. It’s a bright yellow paste, from Peru, made from aji amarillo chile peppers.

From Serious Eats, “Aji amarillo is a bright-orange, thick-fleshed chile with a medium to hot heat level. It’s ubiquitous in Peruvian cuisine, working its way into soups and sauces, which are used in pretty much everything.”

Below are fresh aji amarillo chile peppers on the left, and the dried peppers on the right.

I wanted to use and taste this paste in its purest form, so I did what I often do with pastes and pestos, and that was to slather it on meat – in this case, pork tenderloin.

This is what it looks like – sunshine!

The options for using this paste, similar to paprika creme or an ancho chile paste, are endless. Rice or risottos, soups and stews, salad dressings, and so forth.

Pork with Aji Amarillo

2 pork tenderloins, trimmed, at room temperature
Salt
Pepper (I used Mignonette)
1 jar Aji Amarillo, about 7.5 ounces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Typically I roast pork tenderloin, but I didn’t want the chile pepper paste too browned.

Place the tenderloins in an oiled baking dish and coat all sides with the oil. Tuck under the thin ends. Sprinkle lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

I discovered Mignonette pepper a while back, sold at Penzey’s. It’s a French-Canadian mixture of white and black pepper.

After the pork tenderloins are seasoned, slather them with the Aji Amarillo.

Place in the oven and bake, using an oven thermometer preferably. I take pork out when the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.

Let the pork rest in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove them to a cutting board.

Slice the pork in 3/8″ slices; it gets a bit messy with the paste.

Serve immediately. I had some roasted zucchini that I served with the pork.

Isn’t that color spectacular?!!

And don’t let the description of its fruitiness fool you. This is a chile pepper paste after all!

Grapefruited Pisco

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I’ve always been intrigued by the well-known South American drink known as the Pisco Sour. In fact, I’m wondering what took me so long to finally try it.

With spring well on the way, I decided it was time. So I went to my favorite booze monger and asked for a bottle. What he sold me is called Capel, which is from Chile. Chilean piscos are supposedly sweeter than Peruvian piscos. So adjustments must be made in the recipes.

pisco22

If I’d actually read about what Pisco is, I probably wouldn’t have bothered trying it. Or, at least, I would have asked my blogger friend Sally from Bewitching Kitchen about Pisco, since she’s from South America. But I wasn’t smart enough to do that. I’m very impulsive, really.

If I’d googled Pisco, I would have learned that it’s distilled from wine made from specific grapes, originally those inferior in quality. It then becomes a very strong brandy. Grappa is a common substitute for Pisco. Have you ever tried grappa? I felt obliged once to try it after it was given to us at an Italian restaurant, and I thought my head would explode. And that was from one sip.

So being obliged to also try Pisco by itself, just to check out the flavor so I can share the information, I tried one sip. It was probably half a teaspoon. I could have lit my whole head on fire. Well, next time I’ll do a little research first. But I was still determined to try a pisco sour, my version with the addition of fresh grapefruit juice. It sounded good in theory.

If you check on Bar None Drinks, you can find two different versions of a pisco sour. One is pisco along with lime juice and sugar, which is very similar to a margarita. The other is the same thing but with egg white included, and sometimes with a dash of bitters. I liked the egg white idea, so I came up with the following recipe.

Keep in mind that I’ve admitted before that as much as I like cocktails, I don’t like them strong, and I’m a terrible bartender. My husband enjoys my mixology experiments, because he gets to drink all of my mistakes.

Also keep in mind that some of the photos show a very pink drink, and others a more yellow version. That’s because my first round was terribly bitter to me (not my husband) and so I added Grenadine to the second batch. I preferred the sweeter, pinker version. Here it is.

Grapefruited  Pisco Sour
Makes 2 drinks

2 small grapefruits
4 ounces Capel Pisco, chilled
2 ounces sweetened lime juice*
1 ounce Grenadine, Amarena cherry juice, or juice from the pictured Maraschino cherry jar
1 egg white

Juice the two grapefruits.

pisco6

Measure 6 ounces and place the juice in a blender jar. Add the the remaining ingredients.

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pisco7

pisco9

Blend until smooth and foamy.

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Pour into two glasses and serve.

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The above photo shows how pink the drink is with the added grenadine.

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The above drinks are without the grenadine.

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I served the drinks with skewered Luxardo cherries, Italian maraschino cherries that are like candy they’re so good.

pisco1

I was surprised at how fast the liquid and foam separated. The drink is definitely prettier blended.

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* I used sweetened lime juice in place of lime juice and simple syrup

verdict: I have mixed feelings about this drink. Although it was legally spring on the day I made these, it was cold. Perhaps if the weather had been warmer they would have been more refreshing and appreciated by myself. I actually just finished skyping with my London daughter minutes ago, and she’s had pisco sours (of course) and she never thought they were strong at all. And she’s more of a wine drinker like myself. So I might keep experimenting. If you like drinking rubbing alcohol, this stuff is for you!