(Ecuadorian potato-cheese patties)
Llapingachos (yah-peen-GAH-chos) are a popular side dish in the highlands of Ecuador. They are often served with fried eggs and a simple salad of lettuce, tomato and avocado. Sometimes sausages and a side of rice are added to make a full and typically Ecuadorian meal.
4 to 6 servings
- Russet potatoes, peeled -- 2 pounds
- White cheese, shredded (see variations) -- 1 cup
- Scallions, chopped finely -- 6
- Salt -- to taste
- Achiote powder (see notes) -- 2 teaspoons
- Oil -- 1/4 cup
Salsa de Maní (Peanut Sauce)
- Milk -- 1 1/2 cups
- Onion, thinly sliced -- 1/4 cup
- Natural peanut butter -- 1/3 cup
- Salt -- to taste
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Cook the potatoes until a knife pierces them easily. Drain the potatoes and set them aside to steam dry for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Mash the potatoes until smooth or put them through a ricer. Season to taste with salt. When cool enough, form 1/3 cup portions of the mashed potatoes into balls and set on a baking sheet. Chill for at least 20 minutes; this will make the patties much easier to handle.
- While the potatoes are chilling, start your maní sauce. Simmer the milk and sliced onion in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes. Do not boil. Strain the onions from the milk and discard. Whisk the peanut butter into the warm milk and season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add a little more milk or peanut butter as needed. Set aside.
- Remove potatoes from the refrigerator. Mix the cheese and scallions together and stuff each ball with about 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Flatten the balls with your hands to form patties.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the patties, a few at a time, until browned on each side. Remove to a warm oven until all patties have been sauteed. Serve topped with the salsa de maní.
- Coloring: The achiote powder gives the patties an orange color. If you don't have achiote, add a teaspoon or two of paprika. Or just leave it out altogether.
- Cheese: Ecuadorans typically use a young white cheese called queso blanco for stuffing llapingachos, but you can use Monterey jack or mozzarella.
- Use finely minced white onion instead of scallions.
- Mix the cheese and scallions in with the potatoes instead of stuffing them.
- Add a little cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce to the to the peanut sauce if you'd like some heat. Or add a little ground cumin for extra flavor.