Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Ajiaco

Making Ajiaco

Ajiaco, a national dish of Colombia (regionally from Bogotá), is more than a glorified chicken and potato soup. I first heard of the dish from my Colombian Spanish teacher back in Portland who was salivating at the description of it. When I first tried it here I definitely liked it, but didn't think that much about it...then I started getting cravings for it. There is something about the mixture of flavors that really sates the taste buds.

While shopping one night, Karen bought a cookbook of Colombian soups recommended by one of Yoyi’s friends. It looked interesting by the cover, but like most all of the books I’ve seen for sale here, it was sealed in plastic so I couldn’t look inside. When Kären saw the contents, she was not disappointed. It isn't exactly a vegetarian cookbook, but I also have not yet met one Colombian who is vegetarian either.

Our ingredients

Yoyi reading the recipe

Kären peeling potatoes
After our 5-day trek to Ciudad Perdida (blog to come), with my swollen and blistered feet, a nice bowl of hearty soup sounded like it would hit the spot. Since we weren’t 100% sure of what all the ingredients were, we decided to go to the store with Yoyi. We bought 3 different kinds of potatoes. Unfortunately, two kinds of potatoes only came in 5-pound bags, so we ended up buying 11 pounds of potatoes for a recipe that requires 5 pounds. The recipe was for 8 - 10 servings, but still that's a lot of potatoes.

Upon returning Kären and I set to work peeling potatoes and left Yoyi in charge of the chicken. Have you ever peeled potatoes? It is a thankless job. The peel peel peeling made me marvel at our amazing kitchen staff who make ajiaco from scratch for about 150 people on a regular basis.
Yoyi in the kitchen with the chicken

Sweating in the kitchen, time for an Aguila break

Other ingredients include corn on the cob, cilantro, and another herb called guascas. It’s topped off with suero and capers, and served with avocado and rice on the side. I thought tallos de cebolla just meant some way of cutting an onion, but Yoyi let us know it really means green onion, so Dave had to pick those up on his way over. Like all Colombian meals ajiaco goes well with Aguila.

ready to be served

Ajiaco with all the fixins
After a little over 2 hours of preparation and cooking it was the moment of truth. ¡Exito! It looked and tasted just like ajiaco and it was delicious. The thing about ajiaco is that it’s even better the next day. Mmm lunch.

Kären, Dave, y Yoyi para la cena de ajiaco.¡Qué rico!

Although I'm hoping to return to my pescetarian ways, I can't help thinking that this will be a perfect soup for when it cools down in the fall in Portland. Maybe I'll have to become a pescajiacotarian.

Here’s the recipe:

3 libras de pechugas de pollo
16 tazas de agua
1 libra de papas criollas, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
2 libras de papas pastusas, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
1 1/2 libras de papas sabaneras, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
3 tallos de cebolla larga
1 rama de cilantro
4 dientes de ajo triturados
4 mazorcas tiernas partidas en trozos y cocidas
1 ramo de guascas
sal y pimienta al gusto

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