Ajiaco is a Columbian staple. In Columbia they have a much greater array of potatoes with different flavour profiles. Gloria uses these three kinds to mimic the variations usually found traditional Ajiaco. The same goes for the traditional guascas, which she has managed to locate for us at the Columbian shop in Seven Sisters. But she tricks the eye and palette by adding fresh watercress for the illusion of fresh guascas. It’s all in the aesthetics!
There are lots of pots and pans going on in order to get the best from each ingredient. Gloria’s version is quite a slow, considered process and beautiful for the time spent. She tends to make double portions so half can go in the freezer and be whipped out quick if all the family turn up!
Ajiaco for 5-6 people
1 free range chicken
1 celery stick
4 clove garlic – 2 for the stock, 2 to be fried with the chicken later
1 large carrot
1 red pepper
The green ends from a bunch of spring onions (save the other end for Aji)
1 red onion – half to go in the stock, half to be diced and fried with the chicken
1 white onion - half to go in the stock, half to be diced and fried with the chicken
Bunch coriander (washed and chopped)
Half a bag of watercress
3 sweetcorns (1 for the stock, 2 cut in half for each bowl of ajiaco)
300g apache potatoes
300g anya potatoes
400g new potatoes
1 baking potato (peeled and thinly sliced)
Bag of dried guascas (optional – for added authenticity)
Half an avocado per person
Cut the celery, garlic, onions, carrot, pepper, spring onions and one corn on the cob (for extra sweetness) into big chunks. Add to a pressure cooker pan with the chicken, salt and enough water to cover the chicken. Boil for about 20 minutes. You can chuck in any other rogue veg you need to use up.
After 20 minutes, leave the vegetables in the pan, pour the stock into a separate container and set the chicken aside ready to be skinned, deboned and shredded.
When it’s cooled enough to handle remove skin and bones and shred the chicken.
Remove any fat from the top of the stock and add two thirds to the vegetables. Use the other 3rd to pour over the shredded chicken and put in the fridge.
Cook the broth, chicken bones and vegetables for about an hour.
While it’s cooking, roughly chop all the potatoes (skin on) into little chunks - about 1cm cubes. Put each potato type in their own bowl and cover with cold water
In a new, large pan, put the thinly sliced baking potatoes with enough water to cover.
Cut the top leafy part from the coriander bunch and save fort he aji. Secure the rest of the bunch with string ready to add to the pan. Add this with the half corns.
Transfer the piece of corn from the stockpot to the big pan (this will now be the main ajiaco pan), then transfer the stock, discarding the vegetables and bones and bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes.
Add the new potatoes and apache potatoes with their water and cook for a further 20 minutes
In another pan (lots of pots and pans in this recipe!) fry off a finely chopped red and white onion in oil until soft and golden. Add this to the shredded chicken (and stock) in another pan with 2 tsp salt and begin to warm up.
Add the anya potatoes, coriander bunch, half corns and the guascas to the main pot and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Just before serving stir in the ripped up watercress and add the stock from the heated chicken to the main ajiaco pan.
Serve the soup with one half corn each and a heap of chicken, capers, sour cream, half an avocado and a spoon of aji (for heat and acid).
To make the aji
Finely chop and combine in a bowl:
15 spring onion ends (about 2 inches)
Liquid – 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 water (about a shot glass worth, or enough for the liquid to just cover the ingredients).
Juice of half a lime
Bunch chopped coriander leaves
2 red chillies
1 large tomato (skin taken off). Chop and add the tomato JUST before serving