Puchero de Carnaval
“Estos carnavales quien inventaría…”
One of my favorite holidays in Bolivia is Carnaval and Martes de Ch’alla. Each part of Bolivia celebrates it differently but we all agree on the part of being thankful for all the good things we have and we are thankful to our mother earth (Pachamama) for them. And what a better way to celebrate than having fun and harken back to our childhood playing with water ballons or buckets of water. This is the only time that I saw my parents being tricky and hiding and making alinces to try to soak as many people in the family as possible. After so much fun and being all so wet and cold a good abundant hot and spicy dish hits the spot (te cae como del cielo!) The nice crispy meat mixed with the warm rice and the crunchiness of the cabbage all topped with a nice hot yellow sauce, warms any belly and body. Some Puchero recipes call for chuño or peramota (pear) even peach, you can be very creative with it. I miss the Carnaval season but at least with this recipe I can warm my belly and bring memories back with each bite of Puchero!
Cooking time 2 hours
Tips: While the meat is cooking you can get ready the potatoes, cabbage, yellow sauce. Usually, I do the rice last since once that starts cooling down it gets thicker. Fry the meat before serving or fry ahead and keep it warm. I like the crispness of the meat so I usually fry right before serving.
Instructions by key ingredient:
I/2 cup dry chick peas (you can substitute for one can of chickpeas if running out of time)
2 cups warm water plus 1 cup for cooking.
And hour before cooking soak the chickpeas in warm water
Once the skin is starting to get loose, peel the chickepeas. This take some time so I recommend doing it a day ahead.
After they are all peeled, put them in a pot with a cup of water and cook for about 20 min. Don’t over cook since you will add this to the rice and you want it crisp. (The best way to tell is when the midlle part of chickpea has a light color)
Briscket, potaoes and cabbage
2 1/2 to 3 pounds Briscket (buy from a farmer because it tastes better and cooks faster)
1 white onion
2 celery sticks
8 cups water or any broth
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 red potatoes
1/2 tbs cummin
1 tsp salt
Peel and cut onion, carrots and celery. Put them all together in a large pot with salt and water and let it cook for about an hour.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and peel the leaves off the cabbage and set aside
After meat is tender, remove the meat and vegetables from the broth. Let the meat cool down
Add to the broth: the potatoes, cabbage, cummin and correct to the desired salt level. Cook until potatoes are cooked. Drained the broth into a container and save.
While potaoes are cooking prepare the rice and yellow sauce.
Aji Amarillo (Yellow Spicy Sauce)
1 mediun red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cup yellow spice sauce (see recipe for picante de pollo)
1 cup of briscket broth
2 tbs canola oil
Dice the onion very small, mince the garlic. Cook the onion and garlic with canola oil.
After onions are cooked add the yellow sauce, cumin and salt. Add broth and cook until the sauce thickens and don’t let it get sticky. Add more broth if necessary.
Rice and chickpeas
2 cups rice
4 cups water
2-3 cups briscket broth
2 tbs canola oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
Boil 4 cups of water in a large pot, add salt. Wash 2 cups of rice in cold water. Add the rice to boiling water. Stir the rice avoiding getting stuck on the bottom. Cook for about 10 min or until start its starts drying and add the vegetables oil and 2 cups of broth. You want there to be with some broth and don’t let the water go away entirely.
Cook for another 5 min and add the Chickpeas. If needed it you can add more broth to keep the runny consistency of the rice. It has to be less tick than rissoto. Cook for 10 min.
While the rice is cooking
Slice the briscket into 16 thin slices, 2 per person. Slice the against the grain
Salt each piece and fry with 1 tbs of oil until golden on both sides.
Putting the plate together
First add potatoes and cabbage topped with the rice
Add the meat and Yellow sauce
You can also switch the way you present this dish. In Bolivia this was my favorite way my mom would put the rice and the sauce on top and hide the meat, cabbage and potaoes under it. I must confess I used to hate boiled cabbage when I was a child. So this was her way to make us finish the entire plate.
Feliz Martes de Ch’alla, feliz Carnaval!