This Peruvian chicken escabeche is seasoned with aji amarillo, an orange-yellow chili ubiquitous to that country’s cuisine. In the U.S., the chilies are difficult to find fresh, but aji amarillo paste, sold in jars, is available in some well-stocked markets, specialty stores, or easily online. We purchased it online as a 3-pack with two other Peruvian pastes.
Escabeche is made by soaking meat or seafood in an acidic marinade after cooking, allowing the addition of bright flavors without altering the texture of the meat. The fruity, yet earthy flavor of aji amarillo is an important part of this dish, but if you cannot find the paste, use 1 or 2 seeded and finely minced jalapeños.
FYI–Don’t use regular chili powder instead of pure ancho chili powder. Regular chili powder is a spice blend, whereas ancho chili powder contains only ancho chilies. If you can’t find the powdered, grind some dried ancho chilies in a spice grinder, as shown above.
Because the skin was removed, you might encounter the chicken meat sticking to the pan. Try to pry most of it off the pan, but it is OK to leave some of the meat because it will make a nice fond and release itself once the liquids are added in. It was delicious served with the onion mixture on top of the thighs over a bed of garlic rice.
- 2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs (4 thighs), skin removed, trimmed and patted dry
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
- 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp.)
- 2 Tbsp. aji amarillo paste
- 1 Tbsp. ancho chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 3 medium red onions, halved and sliced ¾-inch thick
- 1 large orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook on each side, without disturbing, until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to low and simmer until a skewer inserted into the largest thigh meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil over high and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium until shimmering. Add the garlic, aji amarillo paste, ancho chili and cumin, then cook, scraping the bottom, until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the onions, bell pepper, 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, then add the vinegar. Cook, stirring, until the onions have begun to soften and the sauce is just thick enough to coat the vegetables, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reduced broth, bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring, until thickened to a glaze, about 10 minutes.
- Pour the sauce and vegetables over the reserved chicken. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then serve.
Adapted from a recipe by Julia Rackow for Milk Street
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