Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quick Pollo Saltado

One of my favorite local Latin American restaurants recently started featuring the cuisine of Peru, and I have fallen in love with their pollo saltado.  This Peruvian-style stir-fried chicken dish is a wonderful mix of flavors and textures.

Classic pollo saltado involves stir-frying fresh chicken, then mixing it with seasonings and adding a handful of fresh fried potatoes (French fries, if you prefer) at the end.  The whole dish is served with rice to absorb all the juices.

Most of the quick pollo saltado dishes you will find out there call for frozen French fries, but I hate the idea of adding that sort of processed foodstuff to my dish.  Instead, my version uses packaged gnocchi, which you can find in the pasta aisle.  It is a little bit lower in calories and fat than the fries.  My version also makes use of leftover chicken, making this a great weeknight dish after you've made a whole roasted chicken on Sunday.

Quick Pollo Saltado
1-2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (basically, whatever you have leftover)
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 T. olive oil
1 large can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, chopped, or diced tomatoes (or, use a quart of your own home-canned tomatoes)
3 T. soy sauce
1 t. chili powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 package gnocchi, cooked
white or brown rice if desired

In a large saute pan, cook chicken, garlic, and onion in oil until onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes and the juice, soy sauce, chili powder, and fresh cilantro, and cook until simmering.  Add cooked gnocchi, and cook until all ingredients are blended and hot.

Serve over rice if desired.

The Analysis

Fast:  Another 30-minute meal that comes together quickly from leftovers.

Cheap:  Leftover chicken and home-canned tomatoes make this dish very budget-friendly, although it is not terribly expensive if you have to buy everything.  The cilantro may be an issue in winter; it can be omitted, but the flavor will be less intense.

Good:  Although not exactly the Peruvian original, this is a nice option for some different flavors after a big weekend chicken dinner.  I'll be experimenting with turkey if I can score some of the Thanksgiving leftovers!

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