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ESPESADO DE LUNES

This is a special dish that is only prepared on Mondays. My teacher told me that everyone she knew cooked Espesado on Mondays, a ritual that is universally accepted. In the clean and complete Central Market of Chiclayo, a number of the small eating shops were dispensing this to diners who knew what they wanted and expected it on Mondays.

ingredients

The Mush
2 pounds fresh or frozen corn kernels (choclo)
1/2 cup Zapallo or butternut squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
6 sprigs fresh cilantro, sliced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small onion, sliced (1/4 cup)
2/3 cup water

The Meat
4 cups (1 quart) water
2 pounds boneless beef brisket or chuck, cut into 16 pieces
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 pound yuca, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 pound shelled fresh fava beans (optional, but traditional)

preparation

1. To make the mush: Process all the ingredients together in a food processor into a fine paste or mush. Set aside.
2. To prepare the meat: bring the water to a boil in a large pan. Add the beef, salt, yuca, and fava beans (if used) and simmer, covered, over low heat until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Add the mush, mix well, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. (This results in a thick and substantial dish, perhaps even too thick, in which case 1/2 to 1 cup water may be added.) Mix well and adjust the salt to taste.

Serve warm, with a side dish of Ceviche.

Note: The original type of squash added to this dish is known locally in Chiclayo as loche. It is long, about 14 inches, knobby, and unattractive-looking and is seen in the markets there, but nowhere else, to my experience. The Chiclayanos swear by it as being indispensable to espesado, but in my opinion this has more to do with chauvinism than with culinary excellence.

Extra! Tips from Epicurious:
• This recipe is from the region of Chiclayo in northern Peru. The use of corn, squash, and beans reflects some of the country’s earliest food exchanges, when those ingredients were brought down from Central America and became important staples.
Zapallo is the Peruvian name for calabaza, a large, round, pumpkinlike squash. Wedges of calabaza are sold at Latin and Caribbean markets, but butternut is equally good here.

 

 
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