Peruvians love their national food, and with so many types of potato it’s only natural to find yet another recipe where it’s the main ingredient. Carapulcra is one rich recipe that you’ll love.
What is Carapulcra?
Carapulcra is a very thick and seasoned Peruvian stew made with charqui, dried meat here known as jerky, and papa seca, chuño or freeze-dried potatoes. Originally the recipe for Carapulcra goes with llama beef, but it can easily be replaced by pork because it’s pretty hard to get the other type of beef.
It is a known fact that over 500 years ago the Incas were already preparing Carapulcra, although many of its characteristic ingredients such as peppers, peanuts and red wine are a true combination of European and African flavors.
In spite of this, we can say that the main character of Carapulcra is the papa seca; one of hundreds of types of potatoes grown in Peru and preserved in a very special technique. Peruvian culture learned to dehydrate some types of potatoes to reduce the water weight and make them easier to transport. This technique is what gives papa seca its unique, strong taste.
Carapulcra is definitely not a beginners Peruvian recipe, it has lots of ingredients and it takes about 3 hours total to prepare. The next recipe serves 6 pretty full portions.
Ingredients for Carapulcra
- 1 lb. papa seca or dried potatoes (450 g)
- 2 lbs of boneless and skinless pork shoulder or chops, cut into 1” cubes (1 kg)
- ⅓ cup of vegetable oil or canola oil (80 ml)
- 1 red onion, finely minced or chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons of ají panca in powder or paste. You can get the paste here.
- 2 tablespoons of ají amarillo (also called ají mirasol). You can get ají amarillo paste here.
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons or ¼ cup of natural peanut butter
- 3 ½ oz. of roasted peanuts (100 g)
- 6 cups of water for soaking (1.6 lt)
- 1 cup of dry, white wine (250ml)
- ¼ cup of port wine (60 ml)
- 8 cups of beef stock (2 lt)
- ¼ cup of red wine vinegar such as Malbec (60 ml)
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- ½ tablespoon of black pepper
- Steamed white rice to serve as a side dish
- Pack of crackers
- Cilantro to garnish.
- Take a large size pot and leave it without greasing. Place the papa seca or died potatoes and dry roast them over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they reach a golden brown color. Remove the potatoes from the pot and place them on a bowl with about 2” of cold water (or until water fully covers the potatoes). Some people just leave them for 30 minutes before straining them and some people like to leave them overnight. You can choose either one depending on how much time you have; after you drain them set them aside.
- Season and marinate the pork chop pieces with salt, pepper and cumin.
- Place the pork chop pieces in a large casserole with the vegetable oil and cook them slowly over medium heat. When the meat is well done, take it out of the casserole and set it aside.
- Reduce the heat to low and add chopped garlic or garlic paste (you can buy it here), minced onion, ají amarillo and ají panca until the onion is translucent.
- Add the two types of wine and the port and let them stir for a couple of minutes and marinate the mix.
- Now it’s time to add the papa seca or dried potatoes, peanut butter, the cups of beef stock and of course the pork chops. Mix well and constantly and make sure the beef is well covered by liquid so it doesn’t dry out.
- Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours. Stir constantly so that the contents don’t stick to the casserole until the potatoes and pork are tender. Add more stock if it’s necessary.
- Put the roasted peanuts on a food processor until they are finely chopped.
- In the last minutes of the cooking time add the roasted peanuts mixed with the crackers, stir to combine and let simmer for 2 minutes.
- Serve in individual plates or bowls over a bed of white steamed rice and garnish with cilantro.
Remember you can always make small variations of Carapulcra and experiment according to your diet or your taste, it’s quite easy and it can be fun; especially with Peruvian recipes that have this many ingredients.