Thursday, November 18, 2010

Empanadas de Pato a la Huancaina: Duck Empanadas with a Spicy Peruvian Sauce

Last Friday I had two dear friends over for dinner. As Emily, Laura and I love Spanish, travel and good food, I thought it fitting to prepare empanadas for dinner. I'd recently purchased aji amarillo paste and was excited to try it out. Aji de gallina and papas a la huancaina are
among my favorite Peruvian dishes, so I thought it would be a fun twist to try substituting duck for the traditional chicken. (For the purists out there, this is my version of the sauce).

For the Duck:

4 duck legs, thawed (or fresh!), rinsed well with water and patted dry with a paper towel.
S & P

Heat oven to 300.
Salt and pepper duck legs.
Place duck legs fat side down inside cooking dish.
Cook for 2 1/2-3 hours or until fat has melted into cooking dish.
Remove duck legs from cooking dish, place at
op paper towels to drain some of the fat and let cool.
Remove duck meat and set aside.

For Aji/Huancaina Sauce:

1 diced onion
3 minced garlic cloves
4 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
2 cups chicken stock
3 slices stale white bread
1 cup whole milk
4 oz crumbled queso fresco
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
S&P to taste

Soak bread in milk. Mash up with a fork.
In large saute pan, heat up olive oil or butter over medium to medium-low heat.
Add onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure that the garlic
does not brown.
Add cumin, turmeric and paprika to mixture.
Add mashed bread/milk and aji amarillo to pan. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken stock and queso fresco to pan. Simmer 20 minutes.
Blend mixture until smooth. Return to heat and simmer additional 15-20 minutes.
Store sauce in refrigerator until serving.

For Empanadas:

10 empanada shells
4 oz chopped spinach
4 oz crumbled queso fresco
1 caramelized onion
Duck meat

To Make Empanadas:

Preheat oven to 400.
Roll out defrosted empanada shells and fill with duck meat, spinach, crumbled queso freso and caramelized onion mixture.
Fold over shells to make a half moon. Pinch shut with fingers and then press along seam with a fork to create indentations.
Cook about 20 minutes in oven until empanadas are golden.

Serve with heated huancaina sauce and a delicious Pisco Sour!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rincon Limeño: A Bit of Peru in East Boston

For one of my nurse practitioner clinical sites, I am in East Boston. Originally made up of five islands, East Boston was created when Bostonians filled in the spaces between the islands to form one large neighborhood. Eventually the island was connected to the mainland. The area has always been a mecca for immigrants, starting with Russian Jews and Italians, next came SE Asians and more recently, Central and South Americans. As a result, the neighborhood has exploded with Latin American flavor (and I couldn't be happier!) Rincon Limeño is one such restaurant. The owners have created a tiny refuge on Chelsea Street for those seeking tasty Peruvian cuisine.

When I think of Peruvian, gorgeous, juicy chicken comes to mind (no one makes better roasted chicken than they do). Pollo a la brasa is chicken cooked slowl
y over a charcoal grill or rotisserie, the meat is perfectly moist while the skin is kept nice and crisp.

I had the chance to sample Rincon Limeño's take on Peruvian cuisine recently. As a starter I enjoyed papas a la huancaina,
roasted potatoes served atop lettuce in a thick, cheesy sauce. Black olives and a hard-boiled egg complete this dish. I know it sounds a bit odd served in this manner-but somehow, it really works! I like to think of it as Peru's very own, more delicious potato salad (is that sacrilegious to say?). Mine only thought is that I would love to try the potatoes served hot in the sauce. I think that some of the more subtle flavors of the huancaina sauce might become more pronounced if heated.

The chicken was happiness. I cannot think of a better way to put it! Juicy, tender, flavorful chicken is one of life's more simple pleasures. Rincon Limeño serves their's with french fries. I think I would perhaps enjoy it more with a side of yuca or potatoes a
nd huanacaina and aji sauce. And of course, with a Pisco Sour!

We ordered alfajores, dulce de leche sandwiched between two butter cookies and dipped in powdered sugar for dessert. Mmm....guys, if you want to know how to impress your lady, surprise her a box of these, and you will have a very happy woman on your hands!

The best part of the meal was that the papas a la huancaina, 1/2 a roast chicken and side salad, and a box of about 12 alfajores were just 23 dollars, making this tiny Peruvian haven a
very affordable dinner option!

After the meal, I popped into a nearby grocery store to check out the food options and picked up a bottle of aji amaraillo paste (yay!), choclo for toasting and a bottle of pisco! So expect a post detailing my adventures in cooking Peruvian cuisine in the nearish future :).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Myung Dong 1st Ave

This past Saturday I finally checked out Myung Dong 1st Ave, a Korean restaurant that opened last year in Allston. The BF was in town (he is in NYC now for work) and we made plans to meet up with a dear friend of mine, Tali, and her boyfriend Brian.

Walking into Myung Dong, we were treated to a blast of what I assume to be Korean pop music. We were seated next to a large flat screen showing pop videos filled with adorable (or nausea-inducing) young singers dressed as cheerleaders, schoolgirls and the like. It is one of the odd-yet-completely-at-home touch you find in Asian restaurants in the area. It was filled mainly Asians, with a few other tables of young people (although as I get older, anyone younger than me suddenly qualifies as a "young person").

We ordered a pitcher of pear soju. It tastes like a fusing of pear nectar and a liquor, and was sweet and easy to sip, although technically one is supposed to drink the entire shot at once. For those unfamiliar with soju, wikipedia has a great summary of the etiquette required to drink soju in a group gathering (although according to the rules, it would be impossible to drink alone as one cannot fill their own glass).

The waiter brought out a variety of small complimentary dishes, including sauteed greens, fish cakes, kimchi and radishes.

We ordered a basket of mini dumplings to start. I had read some rave reviews about these little morsels, but found myself unimpressed with the fried pork and vegetable filled morsels. Great in idea, so-so in execution.

photo from:

I ordered bimbimbap for my main dish. To call it stir-fry would
probably anger some, but the set up reminded me of that. Julienned vegetables were placed in a sizzling hot stone dish, surrounding a large scoop of white rice. Thinly sliced beef was placed atop the rice and an egg was broke over the top of the dish. I love, love when food is interactive. The egg came out sunny-side up but I was able to neatly flip it over to cook it to a little more than over easy. I used some chili-garlic sauce to give it a bit of a kick. The dish was simple, elegant, tasty but not too filling. Bimbimbap. Try saying it a few times; fun, isn't it?