Peruvians have a way with eggs, as evidenced in such traditions as “papas a la huancaina,” an elaborate and beloved potato-and-egg salad, and “tacu tacu,” a hearty lunch plate special of rice and beans, steak and fried plantains, all topped off with a fried egg. And then there’s chili-spiked “ajiaco,” a kind of stew that in this case features potatoes, eggs and cheese. I say “a kind of stew” because it’s although it’s as thick and delicious as a slow-simmered, long-tended stew, it is, in fact, a relatively quick preparation.
1. Boil potatoes in salted water until nearly tender. Meanwhile, place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a medium flame. When the water comes to a simmer, turn off the heat, cover the pan and let the eggs stand 8 minutes. Drain and immerse the eggs in ice water to cool them. Peel and cut them into sixths.
2. Melt butter in a large, deep skillet over medium flame. Add red onions; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add jalapeños and garlic; cook another 3 minutes or so.
2. Drain the cooked potatoes; when they’ve cooled off a bit, cut them into chunks. Gently stir potatoes and milk into the cooked onions. Simmer until potatoes absorb some of the liquid. Stir in feta and eggs; heat briefly until everything is hot and creamy.
3. Stir in cilantro plus salt and pepper to taste. Serve in shallow bowls.
Freshness is all-important in eggs; and yet, in the case of hard-cooked eggs, a little age can actually come in handy. A slightly older egg will peel better than a super-fresh one; that’s because as an egg ages, the PH of the albumen (egg white) increases. This makes the egg white cling less tenaciously to the thin membrane that lies just under the shell’s surface and voila! the shell peels away more easily.
Quick-cooling eggs in ice water will also help make peeling easier.
Copyright by Terese Allen