Travelling is absolutely wonderful. The curiosity, the immediateness, the constant newness – I adore it all. Well, maybe not all. Right at this moment, I’m feeling abit battered after a bout with beautiful (but mean, really mean) Bolivia and – I admit it – all I want are some wooly blankets, milky Lyons tea and some homey fussing. Yup, not feeling so intrepid now! The solution? Potatoes! Potatoes can fix everything! And oh, Arequipa does them well!
Rocoto Relleno & Aniseed Potato Gratin
Rocoto Relleno (Stuffed Peppers) – Serves 4
4 red bell peppers (In Peru, spicy rocoto peppers are used. I don’t fancy my chances at finding these in Ireland so I’ll compensate using chillies in the filling)
2 chilli peppers, deseeded and chopped finely
500g sirloin, chopped into small cubes or, alternatively, minced beef
150g crumbled queso fresco (or substitute some mild feta)
75g raisins, pre-soaked (cover in boiling water and leave to plump for 10 mins)
60g black olives, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
200ml beef stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, ground
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Simultaneously, prepare beef (A) and bell peppers (B)
(A) To prepare beef mixture:
3. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic, and chillies until soft. Add the cumin and paprika and cook for a further 2 mins.
4. Add beef to mixture and cook until browned.
5. Add the raisins and beef stock and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more until liquid has reduced significantly.
6. Add the ground peanuts and sliced black olives.
7. Season and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in 100g of the crumbled cheese.
(B) To prepare the bell peppers:
8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Slice the tops off of the peppers and set to one side. Clean the inside of the peppers, removing the seeds and veins.
9. Cook the peppers in the boiling water until bright red and just tender, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain peppers and blot dry with paper towels.
10. Fill each pepper with some of seasoned ground beef mixture. Top with remaining cheese.
11. Place the filled peppers into a pyrex dish. Place the pepper tops on a separate sheet of baking paper. Bake the peppers for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the filling is heated through.
12. Serve hot with Aniseed Potato Gratin and green salad.
Aniseed Potato Gratin
1kg waxy potatoes, boiled, peeled and thickly sliced
250g queso fresco (or substitute raclette or reblochon) in thick slices
1 teaspoon aniseed
350ml unsweetened evaporated milk
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
1. In a buttered pyrex dish, make one layer of potato slices. Cover with a layer of cheese. Sprinkle with aniseed.
2. Repeat three times.
3. In a bowl, whip the egg until thick, add evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes and cheese.
4. Bake at 180°C until golden and thick.