Recipes, Traditional Food

Chef’s Sunday: Olluco with Jerky

Olluco and Rice, an Ancient Tradition

An ancient dish that ruled the Inca’s table and still holds court in the homes of all Peruvians is olluco with jerky. The olluco, also called ulluco in English, is a small tuber that seems to belong to the broad variety of the potato family. They are completely Andean products and have been used for some 4000 years in a fusion that pleases and nourishes at the same time it is part and parcel of our history. Olluco with jerky is one of the most ancient dishes of Peruvian cuisine.

The olluco, ullucus tuberosus, is also known as lisas.  In its variety it is elongated with a firm texture and has a soft consistency that is less bitter when compared with others. A solution to the bitterness is to soak the ollucos in abundant water to eliminate any remaining bitterness.

In the day it formed part of the food served in the Inca’s imperial court. Initially it was consumed in dehydrated form like chuño, but finer, called “lingli”.

Slicing Olluco in the Market
Slicing Olluco in the Market

In this dish the olluco is combined with jerky, a dried meat exposed to the sun and dusted with abundant salt to accelerate the process of drying.  Once going through this process, the meat lasts longer. Drying was an important technique in the Inca Empire used to prolong the durability of produce.  If jerky is not easily available you can use any kind of meat to replace it.

With a dressing of onions and garlic as well as a mix of chilies (ajies) the dish takes on a flavor that claims your palate and fills it with joy, mouthful by mouthful. It is accompanied with rice and minced herbs to  perfume it.  It is a delicious dish, rich in protein and carbohydrates for the efforts of the day to day.’

Ollucos in Different Forms
Ollucos in Different Forms

Ingredients

1. -Olluco 1 kl

2. -Jerky 150gr ( 0r ½  kl beef, chicken)

3. -Oil 100 ml

4. -Onion,  2

5. -Garlic paste 50 gr

6. -Paste made from ground ají amarillo (yellow ají) 50 gr

7. -Paste made from ground ají panca (a red Peruvian ají) 50gr

8. -Salt

9. -Pepper

10. -Parsley  ½ bundle.

11. -Rice ½ kl.

 

Julienned Olluco in the Market
Julienned Olluco in the Market

Preparation 

Wash the ollucos that are julienned thickly (a long cut of 5 cm by 4 mm in thickness) until they are very clean. Afterwards let them soak for half an hour in order to eliminate any bitterness. Change the liquid at least twice. Reserve the ollucos.

In a medium pot we make our sofrito. We add the oil and wait for it to heat. We add finely diced onion with a little salt and pepper. We let it cook for three minutes and then add the garlic paste, letting it cook an additional three minutes. After this we add the aji panca and the aji amarillo and we let them cook for some five minutes until the dressing is well cooked.

To this we add the jerky, or the meat or chicken.  (Optionally,  we can brown the meat before the dressing and then in the same pot make the dessing.)  To this we add the ollucos and a parsley stem to flavor. We do not add any water because the olluco when cooking lets off a lot of liquid.  We cover the pot and let our mixture cook on medium flame for 18 minutes. Olluco should not cook too long or else it loses the firm texture and dehydrates such that it takes on the texture of cooked pasta. It should be firm but cooked. When biting a piece of olluco you should not feel anything hard, but soft. On finishing the cooking time we add parsley leaves and we check it for seasoning.

We serve the olluco with white rice.  To eat.

Olluco with Chicken instead of Jerky
Olluco with Chicken instead of Jerky

 

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