Find authentic pachamanca in Lima at La Casita de Ricardo
Ricardo Gutierrez himself prepares the pachamanca with his signature combination of spices.
By Sheila Jeanneau
April 27, 2012
La Casita de Ricardo
We recently visited a restaurant "off the beaten track" in San Miguel. We came for the pachamanca. Normally one needs to leave the Lima area to find decent pachamanca. Well, search no further since La Casita de Ricardo is centrally located and the cuisine will not disappoint.
You may ask, what is pachamanca? This is the Quechua word for a traditional Andean cooking technique in which meats and vegetables are placed underground with very hot stones and slowly roasted. Pacha means "earth" in Quechua and "manca" means pot. This important part of Peruvian cuisine, which has existed since the time of the Incan Empire, has evolved over time. The consumption of pachamanca is now widespread throughout modern Peru, where regional variations have appeared in the technical process of producing this cuisine, but the ingredients and the baking have basically remained the same.
Our wonderful hosts, Ricardo and Noemi Gutierrez, greeted us warmly as we entered their cozy restaurant. We were immediately served the flavorful house "cocktail,” beso de nusta. This concoction is made up of various fruits macerated in pisco with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. This drink is served warm and is offered to all customers to begin their dining experience.
Chef Ricardo told us that the restaurant initially started out as a very small restaurant front approximately seven years ago and over the years has grown and now accommodates up to 100 people. The restaurant is rustic inside and allows visitors to feel like they are in an establishment typical of the mountain regions in Peru. During the weekends, this restaurant caters to many large groups and families.
Chef Ricardo gave us a guided tour of his kitchen to observe the food. His pachamanca is not prepared the classic way - baked in a hole under the ground. Instead, Ricardo has custom ovens that he uses to prepare the food in a similar method to the traditional style. Ricardo begins the cooking process every day at approximately 6 a.m. The typical ingredients prepared in these ovens include white and sweet potatoes, assorted meats such as pork, chicken and meat and habas (large lima beans in the pod), humitas dulces (small, sweet tamales) and small bananas. The ingredients are layered with Andean herbs such as huacatay (a Peruvian mint-like herb) and oregano. While these ingredients are roasting in the oven, a large pot of a "secret" broth, comprised of more Andean herbs, is also inside the ovens and is used to marinate the ingredients.
Typically the pachamanca is offered in a personal size, which is advertised to serve two people, but can feed up to three or four, depending on the appetites. This personal pachamanca costs 40 soles and offers three meats - beef, pork and chicken - accompanied by tiny sweet tamales, white potatoes with cheese, sweet potatoes, habas and roasted small bananas. The pachamanca for four people costs 80 soles and offers five different meats - lamb and guinea pig as well as the beef, pork, and chicken - as well as the usual accompaniments.
Our table devoured our pachamanca. The meat used in our dish was huacha lomo, which is a flank steak perfect for this cooking method. The pork, chicken and steak were very tender and all the vegetables served with it were perfectly seasoned.
Besides serving pachamanca, La Casita de Ricardo also offers a special patasca soup as well as fried pork, cuy, sumaq cuchi (a smoked, glazed pork prepared with Andean herbs, rice and huancaina sauce) and a few other main dishes. The typical cost of these main dishes is 35 soles. On the day I decided to return with my husband, the special that day was lechon (baby pig) for either two people (50 soles) or an entire baby pig for 8 people (including sides) for 320 soles.
Ricardo informed me that he does accept special phone requests. If you call a day ahead and request rabbit, cuy, lamb or trout, he will make sure it is available the day you arrive.
La Casita de Ricardo offers a variety of dishes for special events such as arroz con pato, trout in an Andean sauce, seco de carnero a la nortena and Andean chicken breast, among other plates.
I plan on returning to La Casita de Ricardo in the near future because I know I will find wonderful food, a rustic ambiance and extremely friendly service.
La Casita de Ricardo
Comandante Espinar 240 (turn at block 6 of Av. La Paz), San Miguel
Open Monday - Sunday
Hours: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
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