Picante de Pollo

Picante de pollo

My Mom and I have shared the kitchen since my earliest memories. It is the place were we can understand each other, since some of our Bolivia dishes take more than an hour to be cooked. Today she helped me to improve my récipe for the Picante de Pollo. The first time that I cooked this recipe in Maine was for some friends of my husband’s. They loved it but I knew that something was missing. So my Mom and I sat together and reviewed the récipe step by step. Finally, with her looking over my shoulder correcting my seasoning, we finally had the perfect dish for her and for me. It takes a little time to cook and you may not have some of the ingredients like chuño. You can find aji in Asian markets or any Latino stores. Enjoy! Disfrutenlo!

Serves 8

Cooking time 2 hours

Tips: I will describe this by the ingredients that are in the dish. It seems to take a lot of time but it’s really very fast and easy. While we are boiling the  aji Amarillo, we can cook the rice and get the potatos ready. While the chicken is being cooked, get the Chuño ready, and if you do not have chuño, you can start with the garnishing.

Spicy Sauce with chicken


8 chicken legs with thighs

12 dry yellow peppers

2 cups of water

3 large red onions diced really small

4 cups of chicken broth

1 garlic clove

1 tsp cumin

¼ cup Oil

Put together the ingredients:

We need to ready the spicy sauce for the chicken. It is a really easy and simple to make. I recommend having it ready in advance, so it saves you some time since you can freeze this spicey sauce.

Cut the heads of the dry yellow peppers, remove the stems. Put them in water and let them boil for about 30 minutes. You will see the skins of the peppers start getting loose. That is when you know that they are ready.

Take the peppers out of the hot water and put them in cold water. Take the skins off and the seeds (we recommend doing this with gloves).

It is important to take the skins off the peppers because they are so hard to grind and hard to cook. Yellow peppers can be very spicey that is why we need to take the seeds out and leave them very clean.

Once that they are peeled and without the seeds, put in a blender with 2 cups of water and blend for about 2 min until very smooth. Set this aside since we will add this preparation to the onions.

We can do this sauce in advance and freeze it, it freezes really well. I always do big batches and freeze it to have it ready when I need it since this sauce is used in other dishes.

Meanwhile, chop the onions really small put them in in a large pot and cook for about 5 min. Add 2 tbsp of salt and cook until it dries. Add the oil and cook until it is dry again.

The onion part is very important! It really needs to be finely chopped since the onion will give the thickness to the sauce. I also just cook it with the oil directly, but my Mom told to cook the onion just with the salt first and once that starts drying, add the oil and cook until it is dry again.

Once that is dry, add 4 cups of chicken broth or just water. Let it cook for about 10 min and add the yellow pepper sauce.

Meanwhile, grind the garlic with the cumin in a morter until it is very smooth. Add this preparation to the onion and yellow pepper sauce. Let it cook for about 15 min  until the onion is well cooked and soft. My mon says the best way to know is when the onion starts sticking slightly in the bottom. Add the chicken at this moment, and reduce the heat to low. Let it cook for around 20 min  until the chicken is tender, stirring from time to time so it doens’t burn on the bottom.

Is very important that the sauce doesn’t dry to much and the chicken is not too overcooked. The sauce is thick enough and the onions are well cooked if you can barely see them in the sauce.

 Cooking the Rice:

1 1/2 cups rice

1 garlic clove

2 tbs of oil

3 cups of water.

1 tbs salt

Heat a frying pan and add the rice and peeled, diced garlic and the oil.

Pan fry until the rice turns dark white. Move rice constantly.

Boil water and cook the rice as regular rice.

Cooking the Chuño

4 cups of chuño

6 cups of water

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 small onion

1 small tomato

3 eggs

¼ cup oil

1 ½ tsp salt

Chuño is really hard to find here in Maine, but basically is frozen potato that has been dried in the sun. You can skip this step since chuño is an acquired taste, probably like lobster was for me when I moved to Maine for the first time.

If you find Chuño, it will be dry. You need to let it soak all night and next day, break it into pieces with your hands. Once that the chuño is in small pieces. Wash it the times in water to take out the spicey flavor.

Put water to boil, add the chuño and the salt. Cook for about 20 min. Rinse and set aside. You will see that the color of chuno changes from milky white to clear dark.

While the chuño is cooking, dice the tomato and onion.

Cook the onion and tomato with the oil and salt. Cook until onion looks wrinkly.

Add the eggs and like making scrambled eggs until the eggs are hard.

Put this egg mix to the chuño and set aside.

Cooking the Potato

8 red large potatoes

Boil the potatoes with a little bit of salt until they are soft. Set aside.

Preparing the Garnish:

1 cup of peas cooked (frozen peas work too)

½ cup choped parsley


Ingredients for the salsa.

2 small onions

3 small tomatoes

3 stem of quilquiña

salt and oil

Get the ingredients ready, this is my favorite part since the garnish gives the dish the final touch.

Cut the onion in “Juliana” style. Everyone says we should not wash the onion but since my mom always washes the onion, I do it that way too.

Rinse and peel the tomatoes. Cut them same way as the onion.

Take the leaves off of the quilquiña stems, and put them on top of the salsa.

Add the salt and oil to the salsa just before we put the plates together.

Put the plate together with the potato, rice and chuno going on first.