AJIACO

AJIACO (Colombian chicken soup with avocado, corn and potato, for six)

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Ajiaco is a dish popular in both Colombia and Cuba. In Colombia, it is a soup typically made with chicken, potatoes and an herb called guascas (the recipe below substitutes cumin and fresh cilantro). In Cuba ajiaco is a stew made from beef, pork, chicken, vegetables and roots and tubers known as viandas.

2/3 cup short-grain brown rice

1-1/3 cups water

salt

1 whole, skinless chicken breast on the bone (about 1-½ pounds)

½ cup thinly sliced scallions (about 3)

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 shucked ears of corn, each cut into 6 rounds

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use commercial broth)

freshly ground black pepper

½ pound white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths

½ pound thick asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths

1 Hass avocado, diced

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fat-free yogurt

1 tablespoon drained small capers


1. In a small saucepan, cover the rice with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, then season with salt and fluff with a fork.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the chicken, scallions, garlic, corn, cumin and ½ cup of the cilantro with the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the broth over moderately high heat until the chicken is cooked through, 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Pull the meat off the bones and shred.

3. Strain the broth and return it to the saucepan. Return the corn to the broth and discard the remaining solids. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer over moderately high heat until nearly tender, about 8 minutes. Add the asparagus and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Return shredded chicken to the pot and season the soup with salt and pepper.

4. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with avocado, yogurt, capers, brown rice and remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. (The cooked brown rice and the soup without the garnishes can be refrigerated separately overnight.)

from Food and Wine Magazine, May, 2009

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