When it comes to making delicious food, using local ingredients, Peru is amongst the top of the list. Peru cuisine is one of the best all over the world, causing a rage all over the world in recent years, for reasons obvious even to the blind. Peru is the giant of South America when it comes to food, delicacies and historical meals. Termed the culinary jewel of the South American Continent, Peru boasts and exhibits brilliant expertise when it comes to a variety of ingredients and how to make them into one-of-a-kind meal.  

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If there is a meal in the world you should crave other than your country's local dish, it is one of the numerous Peruvian dishes. Peru is blessed with an abundance of ingredients, capped with the best cooking minds in the world, who are extremely innovative in bringing out the history of various kinds of meal, even as innovation has been imbued in the preparation of such meal, thereby preserving the holistic essence and value of such meal. Each meal has a history of its own, being told in a delicacy. 

There are variations in elevations in Peru and this has offered the country even more variants among a particular type of ingredient, offering more variant tastes that can be combined in various ways, to get even more variety of scintillating dishes. The Peruvian culinary repertoire is vast and robust all for one reason, the elevation. Talk of cuisines from the lush Amazon, the soaring Andes mountains, and the meandering coastline, all these cuisines are celebrated and take on equal rights and value at the tables up in the central.  

One beautiful thing about the Peruvian cuisine is that the culture behind the cuisine goes way back and it’s more diverse than just representing meals innate of the Peruvian people, it represents add-ons and incorporation from people and culture different from Peru. And this is so because Peru has a long history of accepting immigrants who end up bringing their own culture and ingredients into the scene. When these novel recipes from other cultures are brought to the Peruvian scene, Peruvians don’t just isolate such recipe, a perfect and seamless blend of the ingredients and cooking gimmicks to the Peruvian style is carried out.

Chefs, cooks and nutritional professionals in the whole of Peru make it a point of duty to always innovate new cooking techniques that stands tall anywhere in the world, but the amazing thing is these techniques don't veer away from the long-standing tradition, no, it rather takes its roots firmly in traditional. 

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 Peruvian cuisine till date celebrates the ancient traditions, as they bring out the best of meals, and that is more reason why the Peruvian Pachamanca still stands to date. 

What does Pachamanca mean?

The Peruvian Pachamanca is one of the many Peruvian dishes that have a superb history as per its preparation and taste. The Pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian dish that is baked using hot stones. The pachamanca can be made from different types of animal meat, ranging from the lamb to the mutton, the pork, chicken to the guinea, all in all, marinated with various spices and condiments.

The pachamanca is an important part of the Peruvian dish and it has been in existence for way long, right from the Inca empire, evolving as time went by, and its consumption is now widespread through modern Peru. Variations, development, and technology had influenced the technical process of production, but the ingredients and baking remain the same.

There are three major regions where Pachamanca is being made;

  • The upper Huallaga valley: Here, the Pachamanca is made with pork, garnished with chinch
  • The Mantaro Valley and environ: In this regions, they take pride in Pachamanca made of lamb, seasoned with various carefully hand-picked herbs.
  • The Peruvian Amazonia: The meat is wrapped in marmaquilla or chinch leaves before being subjected to heat.
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History of the pachamanca

The Pachamanca has been a culinary tradition since the Inca Empire, a very important part of the Peruvian cuisine. In history, there is evidence that the technique pre-dated written records, but researchers have been unable to determine exactly how long it had started. The most important part of its preparation, like all other Inca culture meals, is the ritual. The preparation of Pachamanca was intended to be a celebration of life, the food offering fertility, and also, rejuvenation. It was the belief of the ancients that cooking the food in the ground was a repository of respect to pachamanca, the Incan “Mother Earth”, as the food is returned to the earth, before being consumed by men.

Ever since, there had been only a little evolution that had greeted the preparation of the food, with some regional variations to cooking techniques, a result of the spreading of the food over the whole country.

Nowadays, people use the Pachamanca in times of celebration, gatherings and local holidays. The significant reason this meal is being used for these functions is that you can easily feed the crowd with it, and it also represents the important linkage between the food, people and the ritual in the Peruvian culture.

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Ingredients needed for the preparation of Pachamanca

Pachamanca is no contemporary dish of the Peruvians, It's as old as the country itself, and in this dish, meat and potatoes are cooked, with herbs, all in an underground oven. Just like stated earlier, the preparation of this meal is an homage to the goddess Pachamama or mother earth.

In the preparation of Pachamanca, there are four key ingredients that must be available; the herbs, the vegetables, the stock, and the meat. The main herb for the preparation of the Pachamanca in Peru is the Huacatay. This herb is a type of wild mint.

There are four variants of meat that could be used, and this can either be chicken, pork or lamb. Vegetables are potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.

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Steps to Pachamanca recipe preparation

There are varieties of recipes that might have been developed over the years by chefs and other great cooking minds as to the preparation of Pachamanca, but here is a great one that easy and can be done even without prior knowledge of the dish.

Here, Haucatay will be replaced with mint, cilantro, and Parsley, chicken, and pork serve meat, alongside yellow potatoes, sweet potatoes, and hominy which serve greatly as vegetables.

To achieve the earthen flavor of the Pachamanca, we prepare a marinade for the meat and vegetables, herbs are then used to make bouquets for respective layers, as corn husks separate each of these layers, while parchment paper traps the moisture. Before placing the chicken and pork in the pot, they are parched in a skillet, to create steam at the bottom of the pot, vegetables are added, while the pachamanca slowly cooks over low heat.

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Ingredients for pachamanca marinade

  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup parsley leaves
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup cooking oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons aji panca paste
  • 4 teaspoons garlic paste

Ingredient for the meat

  • 3 chicken thighs, skin and bone
  • ¾ pounds of pork shoulder, cut into three pieces.

Ingredient for the vegetables

  • 3 potatoes, about 1 lb. cut in half
  • 2 sweet potatoes about 1lb, cut in thirds
  • 1 ½ cups cooked hominy

Ingredients for the bouquets

  • 12 mint sprigs
  • 12 cilantro sprigs
  • 12 parsley sprigs

Additional ingredients

  • 4 – 6 tablespoons cooking oil for burning meat
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 24cm corn husks, or enough for 4 layers of corn husks

With these, you Pachamanca meal should be ready, as they are all you need. In addition, you will need to get a tall pot that has a lid, parchment paper to close the top of the pot, and some spring to fasten the bouquets.

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How to prepare Pachamanca 

  • To start, make sure to puree all the marinade ingredient make use of an immersion blender, and divide them into two equal parts.
  • Cover the chicken and pork in a container, with marinades sprayed on top. Make sure the container is firmly sealed, then place in a refrigerator for two hours.
  • Over a piece of parchment paper, place the pot lid. Cut a circle of the parchment paper with a radius that is a bit larger than the radius of the lid.
  • Make 3 herb bouquets tied with strings, each bouquet has 4 mint sprigs, 4 cilantro sprigs, and 4 parsley sprigs.
  • Heat the chicken in a skillet with oil. Make sure the heat is either medium or intense.
  • Heat the pork in a skillet with oil. Make sure the heat is either medium or intense.
  • The bottom of the pot should be covered with corn husks, while the pork meat is arranged in one layer, and one herb bouquet is placed with the pork. Cover the pork with corn husks too.
  • Arrange the chicken in a second layer, make sure that an herb bouquet is placed with the chicken, and cover the chicken with corn husks.
  • Arrange the sweet potatoes, potatoes (yellow) and the hominy in a third layer. Comb the remaining marinades over the vegetables, then place one herb bouquet with the vegetables, the cover all the vegetables with corn husks
  • Pour the vegetable stock down the sides of the pot so that it collects in the bottom of the pot, cover the pot with the round piece of the parchment paper you cut the other time, then place the lid on top
  • Reduce the heat on the food and leave it for the next one hour, make sure that the meat is cooked thoroughly and also that the vegetables become tender.

You are all set. It’s time to give thanks to mother earth.

Conclusion

This is basically all there is to the knowing and preparation of Pachamanca. Remember, it has a history, so treat it as such when the meal is being prepared, make it beautiful. We love Peruvian Pachamanca, and we hope you do too.


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