Llapingachos are a classic Ecuadorian potato cake with a captivating combination of salty Cotija cheese and creamy peanut sauce.
Everyone I know loves potatoes. Who couldn’t love what is considered to be one of the world’s most versatile foods, not to mention one of the largest crops grown in the world.
We grew our own white potatoes on the farm in Iowa, not really knowing about the many other varieties being sold throughout the United States at the time. We thought we knew most ways to cook these tubers as they were a staple in our house.
But recently, my mind was opened as I had the opportunity to learn how potatoes are prepared around the world, thanks to James Beard Award-winner, Raghavan Iyer, at a media luncheon at Melissa’s Produce.
It was seriously exciting, especially considering it was all about potatoes.
Raghavan’s latest cookbook is Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, And Baked—And Fried, Too! A Celebration of Potatoes in 75 Irresistible Recipes (2016, Workman Publishing, $16.95). This “spud-tacular” internatational potato adventure covers techniques, tips and 75 recipes from cities and countries on six continents.
The recipes are paired with stories and anecdotes that weave in the cultural, historical and social influence of the potato over its 10,000 year history.
Mojito Potato Pomegranate Salad page 87
Crispy Potato Skins with Creme Fraiche page 25
Potato Lasagna page 145
Cheesy Tarragon Tots page 19 A perfect balance of crispy exterior and creamy interior!
Thick Cut Potato Crisps with Dark Chocolate page 225
Sweet Potato Rolls with a Creamy Cointreau Glaze page 228
All of these recipes tasted as good as they look.
This recipe is nothing short of a showstopper. Even though the name is difficult to pronounce, these potato cakes are easy in their execution. They house salty Cotija cheese and smoky paprika-definitely a lively filling. And a mellow peanut sauce, dairyrich and pungent with onion, is perfect to cloak each bite of this well balanced starter to any meal.
Here is a look at how they came together.
Cooked potatoes are divided into 12 balls and flatten into 3 inch rounds.
Add the filling in the middle and fold over the dough to cover it.
Reshape each half-moon into a cake roughly 2½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.
Fry them until reddish brown and crispy on the underside, 3 to 5 minutes.
Flip them over and fry on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Make the sauce.
Serve the ckaes warm with the peanut sauce and avocado.
- ½ pounds russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
- 2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (or feta)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions (green tops and white bulbs)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 small yellow onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ¼ cup chunky or smooth natural peanut butter
- ¼ teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
- Canola oil, for pan-frying ( I used avocado oil)
- 1 large ripe Hass avocado, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- To make the shells, peel the potatoes and give them a good rinse under cold running water. Cut them into large chunks. Place them in a medium-size saucepan
- and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer briskly until the chunks are tender when pierced with a fork or knife, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Lay out a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the pan. Set it over medium-low heat and stir the potatoes once or twice to dry them out, about 1 minute. Working in batches if necessary, transfer the chunks to a ricer and press them directly into a medium-size bowl. Sprinkle on the potato starch and salt and stir them in while the potatoes are still warm, until the dough is satin smooth. Once the dough is cool
- enough to handle, divide it into 12 equal portions and set them on the wax paper.
- To make the filling, lay out a smaller sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Combine the cheese, cilantro, scallions, and paprika in a small bowl. Divide this into 12 equal portions as well and set them on the small sheet of wax paper.
- One at a time, shape each portion of dough into a disk about 3 inches in diameter. Place a portion of the filling in the center and fold over the dough to cover it. Reshape each half-moon into a cake roughly 2½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Return each to the wax paper while you finish flattening, filling, and shaping the remaining cakes.
- To make the sauce, bring the milk and onion to a boil, uncovered, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the milk, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to allow it to absorb some of the onion flavor, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the onion pieces (a slotted spoon works well). Whisk in the peanut butter and salt and continue to simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and keep the sauce warm while you pan-fry the cakes.
- Set a wire rack over a cookie sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-size nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, place 6 of the cakes in the pan. Fry them until reddish brown and crispy on the underside, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip them over and fry on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes
- more. Transfer the cakes to the rack in the oven to keep warm as you finish pan-frying the remaining cakes. Add more oil to the pan as necessary.
- Serve the cakes warm, drizzled with the peanut sauce and topped with avocado. Pass around any extra peanut sauce for those wanting a bit more of that nutty goodness.
This cookbook offers lots of information and delicious recipes on one of world’s favorite comfort food. I enjoyed recipe I have tried so far. Raghavan has captured international style recipes using indgredients that are locally available, making this book for everyone.
“One never tires of the nonaggressive flavor of the potato.” – Andre Simon, French Food and Wine Writer
I never tire of the versitility of the mighty spud.
…and then, she paused for thought
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I received a copy of Raghavan Iyer’s cookbook to review. All opinions are my own.