This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

COOKING LESSONS: Pepían & Paches

A highlight of my time with our Guatemalteca family is cooking lessons with Josefa who is a fabulous cook and patient teacher. Pepían is a savory sauce/soup, one of my favorite traditional foods in Guatemala. Here we go!

Sometimes pepián has whole pieces of chicken but we made it with generous chunks of chicken breast, boiled in water with thyme, bay leaves, and salt.

2 types of sweet dried peppers are used (in Guatemala they're called chile pasa and chile huaca), seeds removed. They're roasted on the stove without oil with squash seeds,

cinnamon bark,

onions, garlic, peppercorns,


and sesame seeds.

The tomatoes are roasted without oil, too.

Tonito checks out the action.

Which vegetables to add is a personal choice; we added green beans, guisquil (chayote), and carrots to the pot with the chicken.

The roasted tomatoes and fresh cilantro were placed in the blender

with the rest of the roasted ingredients

and some of the stock.

The resulting fragrant sauce was added to the chicken pot.


Next lesson, a few days later, with the help of Josefa's niece Josefa and her aunt Maria. Paches are similar to tamales but made with mashed potatoes and wrapped in large leaves instead of corn husks.

We started the chicken the same way - water, thyme, bay leaves, and salt.

Meanwhile potatoes were simmering on the wood cook stove outside.

The ingredients for the sauce were similar to the pepián ingredients, but with no garlic, onion, or cilantro and with the addition of cloves

and a little achejote paste for color.

The tomatoes aren't roasted for paches so Maria is breaking them up before blending.

The potatoes are mashed with some of the chicken stock, strained, butter, and a little salt.

Potatoes and chicken are placed on a double layer of leaves

sauce is added,

and then they're wrapped like presents - harder than it looks!

The stems from the leaves are arranged in the bottom of the pot so that the paches are held off the bottom and can be steamed instead of boiled.

They're covered and steamed for about an hour.

¡Buen provecho!

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