My dear sis-in-law, Patti, has spent quite a bit of time in South America. Naturally, when I began this 50 Countries challenge, I shook well-traveled people down for recipes. Patti was no exception. She sent me a recipe for Llapingachos and Salsa de Maní from a cookbook called "The South American Table" by Maria Baez-Kijac.
If you're anything like me, you probably looked at the word Llapingachos and were like, "Uhhh...in the what now?" Allow me to break it down for you: Potato and Cheese Patties. With peanut sauce. Seriously--what else could you want from life?
These would make an excellent brunch food. In fact, I read that they're often served with an egg and/or sausage. I was on the fence about making eggs with them, so I didn't (I really thought it would be too much), but now I can see why eggs would be the perfect accompaniment. As it was, I made this with a carrot and cabbage salad and served sliced tomatoes and avocados. It was a substantial meal without feeling heavy--the perfect balance! Woohoo!
Llapingachos (from "The South American Table" by Maria Baez-Kijac)
-2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered (**Note: Eh, I think peeling is a waste of time. I did not peel my potatoes--yay for extra nutrients--and it was still good.**)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup canola oil mixed with 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, plus extra for brushing
-1/2 cup minced scallions (white part only)
-8 ounces Mozzarella, Chihuahua, or Muenster cheese, shredded
-4 cups mixed shredded cabbage (**or lettuce--but cabbage is more flavorful!**) and carrots
-2 tablespoons canola oil (**I only used 1 tablespoon in the salad**)
-Juice of 1 lemon or lime
-2 medium ripe-but-firm tomatoes, sliced
-2 ripe-but-firm Haas avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the salt and potatoes, cook until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and mash with a potato masher.
2. In a small skillet, heat the oil-paprika mixture over low heat. Add the scallions, stirring, for a couple minutes. Add to the mashed potatoes, combining well. Let the mixture cool, then stir in the cheese. Shape into patties about 3" in diameter and 1" thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
3. Heat a griddle over medium heat. Brush the griddle with extra oil-paprika mixture. Add the patties and cook until browned and crispy on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Brush the tops of each patty with more oil-paprika mixture, turn over, and brown the other side. When done, the patties should have a beautiful brown crust and should be tender inside. Too much fat in the pan will make the patties fall apart, which is why a non-stick griddle (as opposed to a skillet) works best.
4. Place the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Add the oil and lemon/lime juice and toss. Line a serving platter with the salad and top with the Llapingachos. Decorate with tomatoes and avocados before serving.
-Recipe says it makes 20 patties, but unless my measurements were off (VERY possible, btw), it made about 9 hefty 3x1" patties. They're prettier when they're big, anyway. ;)
Salsa de Maní (from "The South American Table" by Maria Baez-Kijac)
-2 tablespoons canola oil
-1 teaspoons sweet paprika
-1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (white part and 1" of green part)
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 teaspoon cumin
-1 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, pureed with 1 1/2 cups milk
-2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
-Hot pepper sauce (**I just realized I forgot this! Whoops. I don't actually have any hot sauce at home, but I was going to add cayenne. Ah well. Still good!**)
-Optional: 2 scallions (white part and 1" of green, minced) or 1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped for garnish
1. Heat the oil and paprika in a small, heavy skillet over low heat. Add the chopped scallions and cook, stirring, for a couple minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin and cook, stirring constantly for 15 seconds.
2. Stir in the peanut puree and cilantro. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick to the pan. If it's too thick, add a little more milk or water. The consistency should be like heavy cream. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. You can serve garnished with minced scallions or chopped eggs.
Verdict: Holy AWESOME, Batman! I was truly and exceptionally pleased by how delicious these were. Greg said they were quite possibly in the Top 10 of all the countries we've tried so far (and there are only 2 left to do now, mind you, so it's quite an honor). Also on this recipe's side is how very, very easy they are to make. Sure, they might dirty a bunch of your dishes in the making, but if you have a food processor/blender and a griddle, these are a snap. They look gorgeous and would be palatable to just about anyone, which is why they will be on a brunch-for-guests menu in our household in the future.