Managing to go 30+ years without ever tasting Peruvian food is one of the biggest culinary travesties of my life. It took an unexpected domicile detour to Miami to right that serious wrong (we set up shop there for 5 good eatin’ years). And catch up–my belly did indeed–play. Peruvian cuisine as a whole, easily makes my top 5 favorites to feast on. Culturally diverse, menu influences included European, African, Indigenous Native, Chinese and Japanese. A veritable melting pot to gorge yourself on. Ceviche is probably the most well recognized Peruvian dish (unless you count a pitcher full of Pisco Sour) but Papas Huancaina, most surely follows a close second. While I certainly love me some citrus cooked fish, I honestly don’t mess with it much in my own kitchen–frankly, cebicherias do it better. Could I? Yes. Should I…incidentally, I feel the same way about sushi. Potatoes though, I’m always looking for new and delicious ways to put cheese on ‘em…go south, dear taste buds, go south. Papas H fits that creamy bill. Think savory meets tangy meets a hint of smoky spice (gracias to the aji amarillo chile). Shout out to those who eat with a higher conscious (you greatly inspire me, save me a seat someday…) these are also a nice vegetarian side dish in lieu of a yawny potato salad or staid scalloped potatoes. Mix me up a Pisco y me pasas las papas!
- 6 medium Yukon gold or red potatoes
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 (6 0z) container of feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 (3 0z) pack of cream cheese
- 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
- 1 large garlic tooth (minced)
- 1 seeded (and membrane removed) serrano chile
- 2 tbsp. of aji amarillo chile paste (can be found in many South American speciality markets. Here in NYC, I found mine at the amazing Kalustyans. Check them out for ALL of your spice needs.)
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup of whipping cream
- 1/4 cup of whole milk
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- romaine or red leaf lettuce (to garnish)
- black canned slice olives (to garnish)
- 1 hard boiled egg, sliced (serious vegetarians can omit the egg)
Boil potatoes in a large saucepan–cover with at least 1 inch of water. Add a pinch of salt and cook until potatoes are tender (about 1/2 an hour). Drain, peel and set aside to cool.
In a blender or food processor, add feta cheese, cream cheese, garlic, lemon juice, serrano, aji amarillo paste, turmeric, 1/2 tsp of salt, black pepper, whipping cream, whole milk and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over low heat while stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Additional milk (by the tablespoon) can be added to thin sauce, if needed. Taste for salt and pepper. Sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated and reheated, as needed.
To plate, line a serving platter with lettuce leaves. Cut the potatoes in half and arrange on the bed of lettuce. Generously pour the sauce over all the potatoes and garnish with slices of hardboiled egg and black olive slices.