Peruvian Potatoes with Cheese Sauce (Papas a la Huacaina)

>> Sunday, September 21, 2014

Papas a la Huacaina

What a whirlwind summer we've had! Though our recipe posts have become farther apart, and stopped altogether for a month, don't think for a minute that we have fallen out of love with food. In fact, we've tested enough new recipes to stock the next year. 

In between my librarian work and marketing work for the local chamber of commerce, I've also been experimenting with art. Joe's been experimenting with having man friends and leisure time, something he hasn't allowed himself in quite a while. When you're raising kids, you don't have much spare time.

But now we've gotten to the lovely part of life where our children are our friends and we have much more time to cultivate our interests. And that's where this recipe comes in. To celebrate Joe's birthday, First Born found a Peruvian restaurant on the north side of Chicago, Ay Ay Picante (4569 N Elston Ave)None of us had tried Peruvian food before, but we learned their cuisine has a strong Asian influence and the backbone of their traditional recipes are seafood and potatoes.

I have become addicted to these potatoes. It's a surprising change on traditional potato salad, or a warm and comforting dish that is hearty enough for a main meal. The luscious sauce is what makes this dish so alluring. It is the authentic version of that orange cheese sauce they put on nachos. It's what nacho cheese sauce wants to be when it grows up.

I bet we could find a dozen other uses for the cheese sauce, but for now, we'll just pour it generously over the papas.


For the Sauce
 1 Pound of queso fresco (fresh farmer's cheese)
 Dash of Salt and Pepper
1 poblano pepper or large banana pepper, seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded (note: you can use all banana or poblano peppers if you like it very hot)
1 can of evaporated milk
1 cup crumbled saltine crackers (about 15 crackers)

For the Potatoes
6 large red potatoes 
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
Lettuce leaves
4 eggs
2 tbsp snipped chives or green onions


Boil the potatoes and eggs together until the potatoes are tender. Allow to cool. Peel the potatoes and eggs and cut into slices. If you will be serving the dish cold, chill the potatoes and eggs until ready to serve; otherwise, leave at room temperature.

Put all the sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until thick and smooth. Pour into a saucepan and slowly heat up the sauce until it starts to bubble, stirring constantly. 

If you are serving the dish cold, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before assembling. Otherwise, lay down a bed of lettuce and arrange the potatoes on top. Pour the sauce over the potatoes, then garnish with the chives, olives, and eggs.

Serves 4 as a main meal.


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