Pique a lo Macho (Pique Macho)

Pique a lo Macho (Pique Macho)

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If you say the word Pique Macho in Bolivia everyone will tell you what is it and that the best pique macho is from Cochabamba (of course I’m being biased). And everyone might also have an amazing history related to  this dish. The first day that my husband I met we went with a couple of friends to La Casa del Gordo, a restaurant very well know for its pique macho. After trying to convincing him that one dish would be enough for the 4 of us we ordered two. While we were playing cacho waiting for our food I bet Dave that there was no way we would finish the dish. When the plates arrived I remember seeing the surprised face  of Dave admiring the mountains of food. We did our best and he won the bet because after 1 hour of digging and digging we finished. The amount of meat, potatoes and locotos with their juices make this plate incredible and also made me look at this boy that I just met differently there are not to many non-bolivians that will finish and eat and entire pique macho. Enjoy it!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 lb top round first cut steak (any soft lean beef will do great)

8 large potatoes

4 uncured beef hot dogs (you can use pork hot dog)

4 eggs

1 large tomato

1 small red onion

1 small green pepper  (1/2 large pepper)

1 locoto or jalapeno (optional)

1/2 cup beer (I used Corona for this recipe but any light beer will work)

1 tsp white vinegar (for meat)

1 tbsp cider vinegar (for the salad)

1 tbsp vegetable oil (for the salad)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cup vegetable oil to fry potatoes

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cumin (optional)

1 garlic clove peeled and mashed (optional)

On the side

Llajua

4 slices of baguette

Preparation:

Put together the ingredients

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Peel the potatoes and cut in large wedges.

Peel the onion and slice in the juliana style (think strips), do the same with pepper and tomato

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Slice the hot dog in thin slices. Slice the hot dog giving it an edge, we don’t want them round.

Clean the meat and cut in cubes of 2 cm each side this is very important we don’t want the pieces too small or too big we want them bite size.

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Mix the vegetables together and set aside. Once all the ingredients are ready we start cooking.

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Start by frying the potatoes. You might end up cooking two batches, since we want them to cook slowly so they are crispy outside but slightly soft inside. This will help the potatoes to absorb the juices.

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While cooking the potatoes, hard boil the eggs and peel them and cut them in wedges or round shapes. I prefer wedges.

When the potatoes are half cooked start cooking the meat.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and when the oil is hot add the meat. We want to seal the edges and brown them but not burn them. This takes about 5 min

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Once they are brown add half of the salt and pepper. If you want, add the cumin and garlic, I like the flavor that this adds to the meat. Reduce the heat to medium high

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By this point the potatoes should be cooked and in the hot oil we cook the hot dogs. This step is important. We need to cook the hot dogs for about about one minute so they are nicely browned on the edges and crispy. Take to a paper towel.

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Add to the meat 1 tsp white vinegar and 1/2 cup beer and the hot dogs. If you are cooking in an electric stove you can turn off. If you are cooking in gas cook for about 1 min. We don’t want to be dry, we just want the alcohol of the beer to be reduced.

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Mix the vegetables with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbs vegetable oil salt and pepper.

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Serve immediately after the meat is cooked it is important to serve  hot.

Put one layer of potatoes, add the mix of meat and hot dog and add 4 tbsp of the juices from the pan. Top with the salad and decorate with the hard-boiled egg.

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I like it as simple as this you can put mayonnaise and ketchup on top, I like putting this on the table so it’s optional for people to add. The best way to eat it is with a nice llajua and pieces of marraqueta (roll) to absorb those juices and when it gets too spicey, a good beer goes so well with it.

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There are so many variations of this dish in Bolivia but I like this way for its simplicity.

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Empanadas Tucumanas

Empanadas Tucumanas (Fried Bolivian Empanadas)

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When I was in college I discovered these amazing empanadas. I attended the University Mayor de San Simon (UMSS) and on the corner of Sucre and Oquendo every morning between 9 and 10 am, you would see 20 to 30 students constantly piling around this street cart food that sold tucumanas calientes with unless 6 different sauces to go with them. As a students I was hungry all the time and having this lunch-sized meal early in the morning gave me the energy to continue with my long day of classes. They were delicious and they were so cheap, costing only 2Bs ($.35 cents). The first time I tried them, I was surprised by the size the empanada, the combination of flavors, and the big piece of chicken inside. I couldn’t imagine how they could fit so many delicious things in a hand-sized empanada. You eat tucumanas by biting open the top and adding any sauces that you want so each bite has a different taste with a different sauce. I miss my college time and I miss this amazing street food. Enjoy!

Serves 16

Ingredients:

Filling

2 large russet potatoes

1 large carrot

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 big red onion cut it in small squares

1/2 lb short cut steak chopped into small squares

1/2 red pepper cut in thin small slices

2 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tbsp canola oil

4 hard boiled eggs

Kalamata olives without seed (optional)

2 cups canola oil

Dough:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup hot water (not boiling)

Preparation:

Filling

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Peel and cut the potatoes into small squares.

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Peel and cut the carrots in small squares the same size as the potatoes. The carrots, peas and potatoes should all be the same size. Put them in a pot with water and salt. After it boils for 2 min take them out and drain them. We don’t want to overcook the carrots or potatoes, they need to be firm. Set aside.

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Peel and dice the onion in small squares. Clean the  extra fat or nerve cells from the meat and cut it in small square pieces. It is very important to cut the meat by hand (cannot use ground beef), it keep the juices better when cooked.

Cut 1/2 of the red pepper in small thin strips.

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Cook the onion in 2 tbsp of oil for about 3 min or until onions are clear add the meat and pepper and cook for 3 min, add the parsley, cumin and oregano. Mix. Add the salt, sugar and cayenne pepper and cook until meat is tender for about 5 min, we don’t want it to be dried. Let it cool and set aside.

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Mix the potatoes, carrots, peas and meat mix in a large bowl. Cover and reserve while we do the dough.

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Hard boil the eggs. Peel and cut them in four pieces.

Dough

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the hot water and mix with a spoon.  Add the oil and mix with your hands until you have a easily manageable dough. The dough doesn’t have to be sticky, don’t over-kneed the dough. Cover with seran wrap and let it sit for 15 min.

Cut the dough in half and keep the other half covered. Cut the half in 8 pieces.

Roll each piece one at the time until they are slightly larger the  size of your hand, not too thin.

Heat 2 cups of canola oil

Prepare one empanada at the time.

Put the dough in your hand add one slice of egg and 3 tbsp of the meat mix. Carefully close the two endings of the dough with your hand, making sure the filling doensn’t come out.

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Cook in the hot oil until brown or golden color. Put it to on top of paper towel.

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Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. These tucumanas should ideally be eaten the same day, but they can be refrigerated and reheated at 160 for 10 mins.

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Llajwa de Mani (Bolivian peanut sauce)

Llajwa de Mani (Bolivian peanut sauce)

IMG_4858I love llajwas in Bolivia and this peanut sauce is one of my favorites, it goes really well with potatoes, yuca and anticuchos (grilled cow heart-meat on skewers). I tried two different recipes and I love both of them; one has fresh cheese and the other one doesn’t. The first recipe I made was for dish call papas a la huancaina.  The second recipe without the cheese we tried on pasta with fresh tomatoes and came out delicious!

Ingredients

4 dry spicy yellow peppers

2 garlic cloves

1 cup raw peanuts  (you can substitute for unsalted roasted peanuts)

2 cups water (1/2 cup more if you want it less thick)

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Optional ( 1/2 cup grated queso fresco or monterrey jack)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Select 4 large yellow peppers. Bake them in the oven for 5 min, the pepper will start burning in some areas and the pepper will turn a dark red color. Don’t over roast.

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Let the pepper cool. Meanwhile, put the peanuts on a baking sheet and roast the peanuts at 350F for 7 min. Remove from the oven, the peanuts will continue cooking after they are out of the oven so you don’t want to keep them inside the oven too long.

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(The above photo with two piles shows the unroasted and roasted peanuts). Take the seeds out of the yellow peppers and put them in a food processor or blender, add the peanuts, garlic, salt and water. You are looking for a smooth sauce.

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Heat the oil in a pan and add the peanut sauce. Cook for 15 min, if is too thick add more warm water or milk. Add the cheese after you take the sauce out of the stove.

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Serve warm with potatoes or pasta or any barbecue chicken or meat.

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Llajwa (Spicy Bolivian Salsa)

Llajwa (llajua)

Llajwa is a spicy sauce that we have on every table in Bolivia at lunch or dinner time.  It goes very well with almost everything! In Bolivia, instead of Jalapeño, we use a pepper call LOCOTO that has beautiful black seeds inside and instead of cilantro we use Quillquiña a plant that is similar to cilantro. But after trying different combinations, this is the closest to an authentic Bolivian Llajwa I can make in the US so far. In Bolivian, my family uses a traditional Quechua batan, a large flat stone mortar and pestle to grind the llajwa ingredients. Our batan came from my grandmother to my mother and one day it will belong to my sister and I. Llajwa is easy to make and you’ll get addicted to it in no time- ask my husband!

Serves 4

Cooking time 10 min

2 large green Jalapeño peppers cut it in half

1 large red tomato cut it 2 pieces

A handful of cilantro leaves (or it really should be Quillquiña leaves if you have them)

salt

1 tablespoon  vidalia onion chopped in small pieces (optional)

Depending how spicy you want it, you can take the seeds out of the Jalapeño. I like it spicy so I leave the seeds in.

If you are using a food processor or blender take the tomatoes seeds and reserve them to add later.

After you have the ingredients ready, put them in a food processor or a blender and chop them until they are small pieces.

Add the tomatoes seeds and salt at the end. If you want you can add the vidalia onion on top. My mom only adds the onion if the Llajwa is going to be eaten the same day.

Enjoy!!

In my last trip to Bolivia my mom made me a llawja in a batan.

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