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Papas Huancaina
(pronounced Papa’s Juan Cayenne-a)

This dish was something I’ve grown up eating, first when my grandmother made it, and then when my mother took it over. It’s traditionally Peruvian, and has the consistency of a spicy potato salad, which you get from the aji peppers.

Aji chili peppers are impossible to find here, usually, they are yellow and a good substitute is Cayenne, but you want to watch how much you put in, because Ajis don’t have nearly as much kick: the spice hits you after this slight delay that makes you THINK you’re safe, and then wham–it’s hot. I found some recently in a Brazilian food store–actually I found Aji Salsa, but it works just the same. Instead of dishes tinting pink from the cayenne, they tint yellow.

There was a slight panic this morning making the recipe my mom gave me, because it called for three raw egg yolks. Not correct. As a family we did some digging, and my father found this one that is still easy, and nearly identical to what my grandmother had written down, except without the threat of illness from raw eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  •  2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 t. ají amarillo salsa/paste
  • 4 saltine crackers (we used two slices white bread)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 White Potatoes, peeled
  • Olives, sliced
  • 3-4 Hard Boiled Eggs, sliced
  • Lettuce or Cilantro to garnish

    Preparation:

    1. Boil or steam the potatoes until firm, but not too soft. Cool, and slice into discs.
    2. Hard boil eggs, cool, and slice into discs. 
    3. Sauté onion, garlic, and chile peppers in olive oil until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
    4. Place onion/chile mixture in a food processor or blender. Add evaporated milk and blend.
    5. Add cheese and crackers and blend until smooth. Sauce should be fairly thick. Thicken sauce with more saltines or thin sauce with milk if necessary. 
    6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
    7. Arrange lettuce in serving bowl, place sliced potatoes on top and cover with sauce. Top with hard-boiled eggs and olives. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
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