Saturday, June 26, 2010
Peruvian Rice Bundles with Chicken and Peanuts (Juanes de Arroz)
I set aside Thursday morning to make these. The recipe starts with a tomato sauce made with onions, chiles, garlic, turmeric, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper (instinctively I reduced the salt by a third because I have found the recipes in this book over-salty). I cooked two chicken legs in this sauce, then removed the chicken and cooked 1 1/4 cups of rice in it. After the rice absorbed all of the sauce (plus some extra water), I set it aside to cool and then mixed in two beaten eggs.
To assemble the dumplings, I cut a couple of rectangles from the banana leaf (which was more flexible than I'd expected, though prone to splitting along the leaf veins) and laid them flat. I spooned a third-cup of the rice mixture onto one of the leaf rectangles and spread it into a circle. I topped that with a quarter of the shredded chicken meat, a tablespoon of peanuts, followed by another two-thirds cup of rice. Finally I shaped it all into a little bundle, drawing the banana leaf around the filling on the sides like a letter fold, and then folding down the top and bottom, wrapping the second leaf around that, and tying it all up with string and a bow. These steamed for one hour - which I think might have been too long.
I remember reading about banana leaves smelling bad as they cooked, but I thought they smelled like pumpkin. These dumplings were tasty, still a little too salty, a bit dry (because I used long grain rice instead of medium) but I think the negatives were balanced by the coolness of being served on banana leaves.