Bolivian fricasé with homemade chuños

Bolivian fricasé with homemade chuños

Bolivian fricase recipe

Wholesome, filling and rustic to boot. This Bolivian fricasé is all about comfort and I love everything about it.

Is it a soup or is it a stew? Well, it’s kinda both. Slow cooked chunks of pork, deep, rich and spicy in flavour. It’s made even more nourishing by adding a good scoop of hominy (white maize) and a rather unique ingredient known as chuño.

Bolivian fricase recipe

Chuño are basically dried whole potatoes – developed by Andeans so that they could be eaten when out of season, if the crops were poor or there were some kind of shortages  – especially in remote parts of Bolivia, such as the Altiplano. They’re available at just about any local market in Bolivia, with many different varieties, as well.

They basically lay fresh potatoes out in the fields at the beginning of winter, allowing them to freeze overnight, then naturally defrost the following day. Over several days of sunshine and freezing nights, the potatoes slowly dry and the moisture within seeps out; and with the help of being trodden on to squeeze even more moisture out, the potatoes eventually lose their skins and a supply of firm and dry potatoes is born.

Bolivian fricase recipe

When making my fricasé, I didn’t even bother trying to find chuño anywhere in Sydney. Something told me it’d be quicker to fly to Bolivia than trying to source them.

So I tried my hand at making chuño myself.

We don’t quite have high altitude conditions in our backyard in Sydney’s inner west, so the combination of domestic freezer, domestic oven and summer sun got me the chuño I needed. All it took was a week.

The thing is, once you have your dried potatoes you’re rehydrating them anyway, before using in cooking. A little pointless when fresh can be used to begin with, but the chuño has a specific flavour that it adds to the soup. It’s a more concentrated potato flavour – earthy and slightly pungent.

If you’ve got the time and like a bit of a challenge, I’d say try your hand at making chuño yourself, should you make my version of Bolivian fricasé. If not, I urge you to make the soup anyway with regular small potatoes.

Read about how I made my chuño below.

Bolivian fricase recipe

 

Print Recipe
Bolivian fricasé
Slow-cooked pork with hominy and some rather unique potatoes. This Bolivian fricasé is sure to warm your insides.
Bolivian fricasé recipe
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Bolivian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Soup
Chuño
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Bolivian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Soup
Chuño
Bolivian fricasé recipe
Instructions
Soup
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium high. Sear the pieces of pork on both sides, until golden. Remove and set aside.
  2. Toss in the chopped onion, chopped red pepper and garlic into the same pot. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the cumin and black pepper. Return the seared pork to the pot of sautéed onions. Add the ají amarillo and ají panca, water, oregano and salt. The water should cover the pork, so if it doesn't, add some more.
  3. Bring to the boil, give it a good stir, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot with a lid and allow it to cook for 1 hour.
  4. Add the soaked and drained chuño (or chats), stir well and continue cooking for another hour; stirring occasionally. You want the meat nice and tender. When it's done, stir through the breadcrumbs, check for seasoning, then turn off heat.
  5. Serve topped with a scoop of cooked hominy.
How to make chuño at home
  1. This is how I made mine at home - using 9 medium red-skinned potatoes. It took about 1 week to get them to dried form. It was summer and the outside temperature varied from 20-30°C each day.
    Making Bolivian chuño - dried potatoes
  2. Freeze the potatoes overnight. The next morning put into a basket or on a tray and leave in the sun all day (8-9 hours). The potatoes are already starting to soften. Freeze again overnight.
  3. Put the potatoes outside again all day. It was partially cloudy on the 2nd day, so they got less sun. At the end of the day the potatoes are softer and liquid started to seep out from them, so I squeezed as much of the liquid out without squashing them. This is when I took the first photo of them (top left) showing one that hadn't been squeezed. Freeze again overnight.
  4. Following day was overcast all day so rather than put them outside, I put them in my oven at a temperature of 35°C - for 7 hours. They're getting quite soft and wrinkled at this stage. Froze them overnight.
  5. Another overcast day so back into the 35°C oven they went for 7 hours. I rubbed the skins off and put them back into the oven for 2 hours, took the 2nd photo (top right) and froze them overnight.
  6. Another overcast day, another 7 hours in a 35°C oven, then into the freezer overnight.
  7. The sun was out the next day so out they went for 7-8 hours. They've shrunk quite a bit, they're firm, quite dry and no longer soft. And they're done, as you can see in the bottom photo.
Recipe Notes

If using dried hominy, soak it overnight and then boil it in salted water until cooked. If using tinned, drain and rinse well before using.

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  • Dedication to the cause! And I still can’t get over how organised you were in making all these recipes before your trip!

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