Recipe: Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Aguadito is a typical Peruvian soup. It means something like “soggy”, not a very appealing name, but it describes the dish perfectly: in essence it’s a watered-down version of arroz con pollo.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons there aren’t too many obese people in Perú is that we tend to eat more home-cooked meals. Parties are no exceptions, and it’s not uncommon that the brave people who stay until the next morning are rewarded with a bowl of aguadito. For the record, I’m lame and tend to bail fairly early from parties, so I’ve never enjoyed a bowl of “morning after” aguadito.

Aguadito is often made with chicken (pollo) or duck (pato). Other popular version has mussels (choros). My favourite is actually a combination of chicken and mussels, because that’s the way my granny used to make it when I was a kid. I’ve been avoiding any attempt to recreate it because I was afraid to fail, but I decided it was time to give it a crack. Even after substituting half of the ingredients (rice, yellow potatoes, corn, and peas) I reckon I nailed it.

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito
Yield: 6 servings

Paleo chicken and mussel aguadito

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo powder or any other chilli
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1 kg chicken wings (or drumsticks/thighs)
  • 600 g frozen mussels
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 small chunk of pumpkin (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small swede or parsnip
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 handful green beans (about 150 g)
  • 1 capsicum
  • 300 g cassava
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Chop onion and garlic. Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Chop coriander and process with a blender/food processor/immersion blender with enough water to make a runny paste (2 – 4 tablespoons).
  2. Dry chicken wings with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of fat in a big pot (if your pot isn’t big enough, use 2) and brown the wings. Reserve.
  3. Rinse mussels.
  4. Dial down the heat, add another tablespoon of fat and cook onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and coriander for 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Add wings, mussels and stock. Bring to a boil and cook at medium heat until the chicken is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
  6. In the meantime, boil cassava until soft (about 20 minutes), drain and reserve.
  7. Chop the cauliflower florets with a knife. You want small pieces but not as small as the ones you get with a food processor.
  8. Dice pumpkin, parsnip and carrot. Chop green beans in small chunks (about 1 cm long). Slice capsicum.
  9. Add cauliflower, pumpkin, swedes or parsnips, carrots, green beans and capsicum to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, stir and let cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
  10. Add the cassava and serve.

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