Aji de Gallina question

The recipes I am seeing on the web have bread (white or whole grain) as an ingredient. I guess my first question is, is this a traditional recipe (i.e pre-Columbian) and second, what would be the traditional substitute for bread? I was thinking masa harin, going on the assumption that the bread is for thickening the sauce. Thank you.

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C Sangueza
C Sangueza November 17, 2016

Rosemary, In Bolivia we make a dish called picante de pollo which is basically the same thing as Aji de Gallina. My in-laws have always used bread crumbs to give some more heft to the delicious broth. I do not know it it has pre-Columbian origins but it is certainly both traditional and contemporary. If I didn't want to use bread and since masa harina is more Mexican and Central American and this is an Andean dish I would use potatoes. Take some of the boiled potatoes and smash them up and add them to the broth and they will thicken it some. Also we usually serve it with potatoes and over rice and when possible with chunyo (dehydrated potatoes) so that even if the broth is thin all those starches soak it up. Best wishes.

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Rosemary salt
Rosemary salt November 17, 2016

That's great, thank you very much!

Smaug
Smaug November 18, 2016

There is some doubt about whether there were chickens pre Columbus, and how widely they may have been distributed in South America. There are still several hundred years left to establish a tradition.

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HalfPint
HalfPint November 18, 2016

This dish seems to have origins in medieval Spain and also Roman and Arab cuisine. So it's not Pre-Columbian.

Not sure that masa harina wouldn't work, but it might change the flavor of the end product. If this was indeed as Pre-Columbian dish, then it makes sense that the corn would have been used. But this dish looks like it's from the Old World, so I would say no to the masa harina.

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C Sangueza
C Sangueza November 18, 2016

This is the cuisine I married into so it's hard for me not to comment. According to Maria Baez Kijac in her book The South American Table she says the Spaniards brought cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats to the Americas. Maricel Presilla in Gran Cocina Latina says about Aji de Gallina that it is, "a direct descendent of the mild and bread enriched casseroles of colonial Latin America. So there is more information than you probably wanted.

As to using masa I have never seen corn meal used to thicken broths, whole kernels of hominy are common in stew type dishes but not ground corn.

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Smaug
Smaug November 18, 2016

Corn meal or masa is often used as a thickener in chilis- of course that's a modern North American dish.

C Sangueza
C Sangueza November 18, 2016

Smaug, Sorry, I meant to say in the Andean region but lost the first draft of my answer. It's all good.

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scruz
scruz November 18, 2016

i really enjoy these history of foods and recipes here.

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