Peruvian Aji de Gallina Made Healthy!

Aji de gallina made gluten free & dairy free with a few quick, easy changes. Enjoy this cleaned up Peruvian favorite.

As I have mentioned before, Aji de Gallina is hands-down “the” dish I would recommend you try when visiting Peru or a Peruvian restaurant anywhere in the world. It is the perfect combination of creamy, spicy and delicious. But, I have always had a difficult time recommending it to friends who are gluten or lactose sensitive. Since I have chosen to eat clean, whole foods I have been looking at ways to change some of my favorite recipes in order to make a healthier version.

When I mention to people that I make Aji de Gallina without oil, without milk, and without bread or crackers, they immediately scoff and then look at me curiously. Most then ask for the recipe and the tips for making it healthier. 

Given that the essence of the cream sauce for this recipe has always been in the milk and bread mixture, it is truly hard to believe that the same dish could be made without those ingredients. But, I am here to tell you it’s true! My husband, who can immediately detect any alteration I make to a recipe, actually agrees that this version is the same if not BETTER than the original. I am so happy to make healthier versions of our favorites. This version essentially replaces the milk with nut milk and the bread with quinoa. Read on to find out how!

If you have never had Aji de Gallina, I would absolutely recommend it. Try the original recipe or this dairy-free, gluten-free version. I served this particular version with Peruvian Olive Rice.

Healthy Aji de Gallina

Ingredients

  1. 3 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 pounds)
  2. 1 tablespoon salt, divided
  3. 2 large red onions, cut into wide strips
  4. 6 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 cup of aji amarillo paste
  6. 1/2 cup of aji mirasol paste
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  8. 4 cups chicken broth
  9. 1 cup brazil nuts
  10. 2-3 cups of cooked quinoa

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cover chicken breast with water and add 1/2 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat at this point, but allow the chicken to steep for another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool, reserve cooking broth. Once cool enough, shred chicken. You should have about 8 cups of shredded chicken.
  2. In the same pot, using some of the reserved chicken broth, sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add onion mixture to the blender along with just enough broth to puree. (I added about 1 1/4 cups of broth.) You should have about 3 cups of pureed onion.
  3. Using the same large pot (no need to wash, nor dirty other dishes!) combine the shredded chicken, blended onion mixture, aji amarillo paste, aji mirasol paste, cumin powder, and remaining salt. Add enough broth to barely cover all the chicken (about 4 cups). Allow this combination to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is simmering, blend brazil nuts with about a cup of reserved broth until smooth. Add this to the chicken mixture.
  5. Blend cooked quinoa (the amount of quinoa will depend on the thickness of sauce you prefer) with some of the reserved broth and process into a paste, adding additional liquid if necessary. (Just remember you want a paste and not a liquid here.) Add the quinoa to the chicken mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Bring the entire mixture to a slight simmer (do not boil) for about 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. Adjust the salt if needed.
  7. Serve over boiled, peeled potatoes and accompanied with rice, lettuce, hard boiled egg and olives.

Notes

  1. You can certainly substitute another type of nut for this recipe. I have made this with pecans, almonds and Brazil nuts.
  2. Some prefer a thin sauce, some prefer a thicker gravy. Make this to fit your preferences by monitoring how much quinoa you add. The more quinoa, the thicker the sauce will be.

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