Thursday, November 26, 2009

Papas a la Huancaina

04 Papa a La Huancaina sliced potato in spicy ...Image by jasonlam via Flickr

In the central highlands of Peru you'll find a province called Huancayo. This province is known for many things - the Cerrito de la Libertad, the statue of the Virgin of Concepcion... but it's most known for it's food. In particular, it's known for a potato dish called papas a la huancaina (huancayo style potatoes... clever, eh?) This is a delicious dish, usually served as an appetizer but sometimes as a side dish that consists of boiled and sliced potatos covered in a spicy cheese sauce. It's the first authentic Peruvian dish I ever tasted, and is one of my favorites still. And here's how you make it!

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 aji amarillo (yellow peruvian pepper) - seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups queso fresco or queso blanco (farmers cheese - I've been told feta will do in a pinch)
  • saltine crackers
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onion, aji and garlic in 2 0r 3 tbsps of vegetable oil, until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
  2. Put the sauted mixture in a blender or food processer, and puree it with the cheese and evaporated milk.
  3. Add crackers as needed to make it thick - this should be a fairly thick sauce that sticks to the spoon. If you get it too thick, add a little more evaporated milk to thin it out
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
Boil whole potatoes until cooked through, but don't let them get real soft! (If you're in Peru, you'll want to use papas rosadas for this - do NOT use papas amarillas!) After they've cooked, let them cool enough to touch then take the skin off and slice in 1/2 inch slices.

Arrange each serving like this -
- 1 lettuce leaf or a small bed of shredded lettuce
- 3 slices of potato
- sauce to cover
- decorate with a quarter of a hard boiled egg and a couple slices of black olive


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