Dinner Menu: Peru

It takes a while for news of hot food trends to reach central Vermont, so I may be forgiven for taking my time getting around to Peruvian food. Which is hot. Or maybe by now it’s passe. I’m pretty sure it’s still hot.

A mention of “Peru” and “food” to people who’ve relocated here from New York City and they start rhapsodizing about a takeout restaurant in the general vicinity of Manhattan that serves grilled chicken with a green sauce.

Everyone else who heard about my Peru plans made guinea pig comments.

(Yes, they eat guinea pigs in Peru – they’re called Cuy and according to the Internet they taste like rabbit)

And of course potatoes. Two interesting pieces I read / listened to recently about the cradle of potato civilization: Extreme Salad & Crazy Potatoes from Gastropod and Natural GMO? from NPR.

Another reason to go Peruvian was this article from The Salt on the government-sponsored promotions behind Peruvian cuisine’s popularity. I worked in government-sponsored food promotion once. I’m game for following along on their efforts. (By the way, another interesting piece on fabricating food trends – Planet Money reports on Fondue).

So, here is a menu for a Peruvian dinner should you wish to create your own oasis of food hipness. I relied on Gran Cocina Latina for many recipes – below I’ve found online recipes that seem close enough to substitute in where I could:

Ceviche made with Haddock

Ceviche made with Haddock

  • Ceviche  –  A classic ceviche recipe from Rick Bayless. This is a raw fish preparation where lemon juice or other acids turn the proteins in the fish opaque and change their texture to be more firm. It’s not cooked, just transformed.
  • Lomo Saltado – Beef & potato stir fry. I can’t find the right version online. The best I can come up with is this one. I’d recommend skipping the frozen French fries and instead thin slicing Russet potatoes of equal weight to your beef, then crisping them (seriously crisp) on well-oiled sheets in a 425-degree oven. I’d also recommend taking the meat & onions out of the skillet after they’ve cooked, adding the tomato plus 2 Tb soy sauce and 1/4 cup red wine and cooking the sauce down to thicken, then throwing everything, including the potatoes, back together again in the pan.
  • Anticuchos: Marinated beef heart shish kebabs. A recipe from the BBQ Bible. Plus: Grilled Hearts of Other Things (vegetable things, like celery, artichoke, palm)
  • Pollo a La Brasa & Fried Potatoes – Peruvian style grilled chicken with green sauce. I used this Serious Eats recipe for the chicken. Here is a Ree Drummond recipe for French Fries. The double frying is important. I hear a rumor that this Cook’s Illustrated variation does away with the double frying successfully, but haven’t tried it for myself.

    Hot and Sweet Peppers minced with Red Onion, let sit in white vinegar with 1 Tb of sugar and a generous pinch of salt overnight.

    Hot and Sweet Peppers minced with Red Onion, let sit in white vinegar with 1 Tb of sugar and a generous pinch of salt overnight.

  • Quinoa Salad with Lemon and Yellow Pepper Relish
  • Spicy Pickled Pineapple – Here’s a flavor combination that’s generally useful but not a precise recipe: pineapple goes well with a combination of salt, chili powder, curry powder, and cayenne. Put in about a third as much chili as curry, and a pinch of cayenne and salt that work their way up to the right heat and right saltiness. I made it a relish by adding jalapenos, scallions, and a splash of rice vinegar and letting it sit overnight.
  • Rice – The rice is really supposed to go under the lomo saltado, but I can’t bring myself to say up front potatoes will be served on top of rice.
  • Pisco Sours – Or Pisco Manhattans or Pisco Sidecars or Pisco Margaritas. . . Pisco is a Peruvian brandy that turns out to be a chameleon of a liquor, fitting in well in a variety of cocktail situations. Trust us. We tested the theory. (P.S. We used sugar instead of simple syrup and, while not perfect, the world did not end)
  • Suspiro de Limena – A dulce de leche inspired custard with port meringue layers. Wow is it sweet. Like. Wow.
  • Brigadeiro-Filled Sandwich Cookies – Oh it’s a big mess. Here’s what I recommend: just make the cookies. Smitten Kitchen posts an excellent version of graham crackers, which are the cookies in my sloppy sandwiches. I recommend adding 1.5 tsp of cinnamon and reducing the vanilla to be 1.5 Tb.

    I got a little over generous with the cookie filling here. . .

    I got a little over generous with the cookie filling here. . .

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