A Peruvian Party!

February 2, 2014

Last week the BF and I headed to The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square for an amazing cooking class. I fell in love with The Chopping Block a few months ago when I attended a casual cooking class specifically for Chicago Food Bloggers. That class was held at their Merchandise Mart location, but this time we headed North to their Lincoln Square location.

Over the holidays, the BF's mom kindly gave us a gift card to use at The Chopping Block so we scoured the calendar of classes and settled on a class featuring Peruvian cuisine. We both had never really eaten Peruvian food, let alone cooked it, so we knew this would be a great learning experience.

The Lincoln Square location is two levels and our class was held upstairs where there was a dining area, as well as a pretty large cooking area. We were matched up with another couple who we quickly got along with over our shared love of spicy food. The Chopping Block allows you to BYOB with a minimal corkage fee so we brought a bottle of red the BF had seen in Wine Spectator. Can't say he's not resourceful!
Our evening involved creating three full dishes in just two and half hours. Chef Lucio showed us how to make each dish and then we'd return to our workstations to recreate what we were taught. There were also two other chefs that walked around and helped make sure we didn't cut our fingers off.

Chef Lucio
The first dish we created was a ceviche. This ended up being our favorite dish of the evening and is definitely something we will make again. The ceviche included sea bass, shrimp, and scallops and had a nice kick. One ingredient that was included in each of the dishes we made was aji amarillo paste, made from a yellow Peruvian pepper. Check out the recipe for this ceviche at the bottom of this post!

Ceviche Ingredients
Ceviche Mixto
Ceviche Mixto
Ceviche Mixto
Next, we learned how to make a chicken stew in a flavorful cream sauce. The sauce was actually made from a base of chicken stock and bread and had beautiful color from turmeric. We enjoyed this with rice and a side of olives and hardboiled eggs.

Aji de Gallina (Peruvian Chicken in Yellow Chili Cream Sauce)
Lastly, we made Papas Rellenas, crispy beef and raisin-filled potato fritters. First, we made the filling which included ground beef, peppers, onion, a variety of spices, a red wine and sherry glaze, and several other ingredients. After cooking the filling we placed a spoonful of filling onto a flattened potato and yucca mash and rolled it into an egg-shaped ball. We then fried each to a crispy golden brown.

Ingredients for Papas Rellenas
Frying the Papas Rellenas
Papas Rellenas
After we were finished cooking, we sat and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The chefs also made us Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru which is made with pisco, egg white, sugar, ice, and bitters.

Pisco Sour 
The Rest of Our Full Meal!
We had a fantastic evening creating a flavorful Peruvian meal. The staff at The Chopping Block made it fun to learn how to cook and we loved enjoying a new type of cuisine. I recommend a class at The Chopping Block for anyone looking to spice up their cooking skills or if you're looking for a perfect gift for the foodie or hopeless cook in your life!

Ceviche Mixto
Yield: 4 servings


1/2 lb firm white fish such as bass or snapper, boneless and skinless, cut into small pieces
1/2 lb shrimp peeled, deveined, and cut into small pieces
1/2 lb scallops, cut into small pieces
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced, with as many seeds as you wish
1/2 rib celery, minced
3 lemons, juiced
3 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
4 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped


1. In a medium-sized bowl combine fish, shrimp, scallops, shallot, garlic, chili pepper, celery, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, aji amarillo paste, salt, and pepper.

2. Allow the ceviche to marinate for at least 30 minutes but up to six hours. Stir in the cilantro and parsley and serve.

The Chopping Block
4747 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza #107
Chicago, IL 60654
Chopping Block on Urbanspoon

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