Aji amarillo paste is a perfect accompaniment to creamy arborio rice in this aji amarillo risotto with chicken. So what is aji amarillo paste? Read on to find out!
I’m always looking for new ways to spruce up risotto. It’s one of my favorite dishes, after all. When I read about using aji amarillo paste in it on a Peruvian blog, I knew I had to try it.
In this recipe, aji amarillo paste is stirred into the arborio rice as it cooks. The final result is a spicy, somewhat smoky, creamy risotto that can be enjoyed on its own or with a protein, such as crispy chicken, seared steak, fish, such as roasted cod or Chilean sea bass.
What is Aji Amarillo Paste:
Aji amarillo is a type of yellow pepper that is grown all over Peru. ‘Aji’ meaning chili pepper and ‘amarillo’ meaning yellow. It is a staple in Peruvian cuisine and when paired with garlic and red onion, is considered a holy trinity of flavor.
Aji amarillo paste is considered a main ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. Of course, in Peru, chefs and home cooks prepare their own version of the paste to use. If you don’t have access to the yellow peppers, you can use store-bought, as I did. Or you can follow this recipe to prepare your own version!
Store-bought aji amarillo paste is spicy, so you can tone down how much you use in this recipe. I wanted a beautiful yellow color, so I went ham on the paste. The heat was there, but when paired with the chicken, arborio rice, and plenty of butter, it was not too spicy to eat at all.
Just look at those beautiful grains of rice perfectly suspended in that creamy, spicy aji amarillo sauce! It was so delicious!
How to Make Aji Amarillo Risotto with Chicken:
Making this risotto is simple. You will need about an hour total, by the time you chop all the ingredients and prepare the dish. You’ll need to multi-task a bit, but it’s not too challenging.
First, start the aji amarillo risotto. You’ll need a solid 12-13 minutes to allow the mushrooms to cook. You want to make sure they release all their liquid so you don’t have a runny risotto, so continue cooking until all the liquid in the pot has evaporated. From there. melt butter into the pot and add the arborio rice. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the rice begins to toast. Add the aji amarillo paste and cook until the rice is completely coated with the paste. From there, it’s just a matter of adding hot stock, stirring until absorbed, hot stick, stirring, hot stock, stirring, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is thick and creamy. You can add Parmesan cheese, if you like, but I didn’t find it to be necessary.
As the rice is cooking, prepare the chicken. Simply pat the chicken dry, season all over with salt and pepper and fry in an oven-proof skillet, skin-side down, until very crisp. Flip and transfer to the oven and allow the chicken to roast while you finish the rice.
Looking for more chicken recipes? Check my archives!
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Aji Amarillo Risotto with Chicken
- Medium pot
- Ovenproof skillet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
- 1 yellow onion peeled and minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms trimmed and finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic peeled and very thinly sliced or minced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ¼–¾ cup aji amarillo paste more or less to taste, depending on how spicy your brand of aji amarillo is
- ¾ cup dry white wine (or use more stock)
- 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil for frying
- 5 skin-on chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley, optional, for serving
- Warm the stock in a microwave or in a small pot on the stove. Turn heat to low and keep warm. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Start the Risotto:
- Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until it just begins to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook for 12-13 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden brown.
- They should release all their liquid and the liquid should evaporate from the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the Chicken:
- As the mushrooms are cooking, start the chicken. Pat the chicken dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat neutral cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook without moving for 5 minutes until the skin is very crispy and browned. Flip the chicken and transfer to the oven for 20-25 minutes until completely cooked through. Turn off the oven and keep the chicken in the oven as you finish the risotto to keep it warm.
Cook the Rice:
- Melt the butter into the pot and add the rice. Cook, stirring regularly, for 2-3 minutes until the rice is coated with butter and begins to turn golden brown.
- Add the aji amarillo paste and toss to coat.
- Pour in the white wine and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
- Once the wine has been absorbed, add 1 cup of the stock and stir regularly until absorbed. Continue on, adding a cup of stock, stirring until absorbed and then adding more stock until all of the stock has been incorporated, about 20-25 minutes total. Taste and season to your preferences. Turn off the heat and allow the risotto to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Divide the risotto between shallow bowls and serve with a chicken thigh on top. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Enjoy!