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Pepián Guatemalan Meat Stew

This spicy meat stew is one of Guatemala’s oldest dishes and is a fusion of Mayan and Spanish cuisines. Thick and rich, its bold flavours come from spices, seeds and vegetables that are roasted until aromatic, before being puréed together. Popular as street food, Pepián is usually served with rice or corn tortillas.

Pepián Guatemalan Meat Stew

Preparation: 1 hour

Cooking: about 1½ hours

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts, skin on
½ cinnamon stick
1tbsp allspice berries
6 whole cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
6 plum tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
750ml chicken stock
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small chunks
1 tbsp cornflour or masa harina
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Coriander leaves, to garnish

Grill or roast the chicken pieces until cooked.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cloves, peppercorns and coriander seeds in a dry heavy frying pan over medium heat until they smell fragrant. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the chilli flakes, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and oregano to the frying pan and toast these until the sesame seeds are golden. Transfer all the spices and seeds to a mini processor or grinder and blitz to a powder.

Heat the oil in the frying pan, add the onion quarters, whole plum tomatoes and garlic cloves and cook them over a medium heat until the onion and garlic are golden and the tomatoes scorched on all sides. Remove from the pan. Strip the skins off the tomatoes and coarsely chop the flesh.

Tip the ground spices and vegetables into a food processor or blender, add 150ml of the stock and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large pan, and stir in all but a couple of tablespoons of the remaining stock.

Mix this reserved stock with the cornflour until smooth and stir it into the pan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened a little and is smooth. Add the chicken, potatoes and squash to the pan, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Adjust the season, if necessary.

Serve hot with coriander leaves scattered over and accompanied with boiled rice or corn tortillas.

 

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