Pollo con Salsa De Quinua a la Huancina- Peruvian Chicken with Quinoa, Cashew and Goat Cheese Sauce

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first week cooking in Peru, it’s that those Peruvians really kill it with their rich and flavorful sauces.  In this dish, sauteed onion, garlic, and yellow pepper paste combine with evaporated milk, crumbled goat cheese, cooked quinoa and roasted cashews to create a creamy, luscious sauce for baked chicken.

It’s another variation of the sauce I used last week for the Ocopa Arequipena.   The lesson here?  I’ll once again quote one of my favorite sayings, “use what you have to make what you want.”  Sub out the cashews and/or goat cheese for whatever nut or fresh, crumbly cheese you’ve already got in your pantry and fridge.  I have a feeling this is one of those instances where it’d be hard to mess things up.

And I’d be remiss not to mention the chicken; it gets a nice bath in a lime, salt and pepper marinade and then baked until just cooked through (and safe!  It’s recommended chicken gets to an internal temperature of 165 degrees).  I’d happily eat this plain or as a filling for tacos.  I find that most people over-bake chicken, which is the reason they people end up with chicken breasts that are sad and dried out.

The sauce adds a rich, creaminess and the Salsa Criolla Peruana sprinkled on top adds some spicy heat and acidity.  If you’ve had one too many boring chicken dishes lately this might be just the thing to turn the tide.

Pollo con Salsa De Quinua a la Huancina- Peruvian Chicken with Quinoa, Cashew and Goat Cheese Sauce

Yield: 6 servings


* 6 small boneless chicken breasts
* juice of two limes (about 6 Tablespoons)
* 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
* salt and pepper

* 2 Tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2-3 Tablespoons mirasol hot yellow pepper paste
* 15 ounce can evaporated milk
* 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
* 1/4 cup dry roasted cashews
* 2-3 ounces goat cheese (or substitute feta cheese or queso fresco)
* salt and pepper

Salsa Criolla Peruana:
* 1 red onion, cut into thin half-moons
* 1-2 Jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and minced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
* 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
* salt and pepper


Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl. Add the lime and olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and place in the refrigerator; let marinate for a couple of hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the chicken on the prepare sheet. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until no longer pink.

In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened. Add the yellow pepper paste and stir to coat the onion mixture. Add the evaporated milk and reduce heat. Simmer for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Pour the onion mixture in the base of a blender. Add the quinoa, cashews and cheese. Process until smooth. You can add some extra milk or olive oil to thin out the sauce, if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour some of the sauce over the top. Serve with Salsa Criolla Peruana.

To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and toss to combine. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

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