Wow. So Tuesday just came, smacked me around, and left. And if that seems to be in the wrong chronological order, you're very filthy.
I arrived at work and thought that I was in for a bit of a recovery day after Monday. All was quiet for maybe half an hour, and then things picked up with a vengance. A certain instructor asked me to stay after my work hours to do some repair on a Microsoft Entourage mailbox. Note to anyone who works in IT support: if anybody asks for support for Microsoft Entourage on Mac OSX, run screaming. I was there 3 hours later than I should've been, and I still don't have a solution for the problem.
I had planned on finally doing that run for tech-related stuff (audio interface, small-scale mic, etc.), but I left work at nearly 6pm and I was pissed off and in no mood to shop and then deal with the rush hour traffic on the métro with my arms full of bags. So I went straight home (with a detour through my boulangerie for a mood-management pastry =] ) and got to work on my ajì de gallina. The plan is to make the dish tomorrow (with recipe and photoblogging!), but part of it needs to be done overnight. Actually, you can do it the same day, but it's difficult to hand-shred a poultry carcass when it's still piping hot.
Still with me? For those of you who didn't get queasy at the sight of the words "carcass" and "shred," ají de gallina (Hen with hot pepper sauce) is like Peru's version of a curry. It involves cooking up and shredding a hen (or chicken) then making a complex sauce that is strongly spiced with peruvian hot peppers, cumin and tumeric. The sauce is thickened with milk-soaked bread, and then puréed with walnuts or pecans. The shredded chicken is mixed in and it's served over rice. (See tomorrow's post for the detailed recipe and pictures.)
So the plan for tonight was to do the first step: 1) Cook the hen. I had managed to borrow the pressure cooker from one of the building staff, so this wasn't nearly as time intensive as it could've been. I started with a pot au feu package that I found in the grocery store (a bunch of carrots, an onion, a parsnip, some celery, leeks, and more carrots). I roughly halved or quartered the veggies (these don't make it to the final dish, they're just there for the stock), laid some down as a bed in the pressure cooker, tossed in the hen, and surrounded it with the remaining veggies. I also dropped about half a head of garlic in the the mixture. Salt, pepper, water. Then bring to a boil. Since I was using a pressure cooker, I only had to wait 45 minutes from the moment the steam valve began to hiss. In a conventional stock pot, this would probably be 3 hours at a simmer, maybe more. Either way, you want the flesh to fall right off the bone. Also, if your're cooking with a chicken instead of a hen, you should cut the cooking time a bit, lest you cause the flesh to fall apart in your hands.
That was all for tonight. I set that thing to boil, checked my messages, did some blogging, then turned off the stove and let it cool down. The pot was still hot when I went to bed.