The dish this week looks odd. Let’s break it down. Cold boiled potatoes on a bed of lettuce with olives, hard-boiled egg and a spicy cheese sauce. Why would you want to eat cold potatoes with a slushy cheesy sauce (also cold) and all on a slapdash garnish of lettuce?
In reality, there is so much more to this dish than what meets the eye. This dish is Auntie Rita – horrible to look at but gives you a present every time you see her. I found the dish after being contacted by Chilli Pepper Pete on Twitter who offered help in my research into Peru. Pete can get his hands on any chilli you like and he told me I must use Aji Amarillo chillies if I was to even consider cooking a Peruvian dish. He sent me some overnight so I got to work on the best possible dish. The reason I chose Papas a la Huancaina is that it didn’t sound incredible, but the reviews online suggested the absolute opposite, so I needed to taste it.
I began by rehydrating Pete’s Aji Amarillo chillies
Once done I boiled potatoes and let them go cold. I then chopped up the chillies and softened them in a pan with a diced white onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. The onion mix was then blended with a can (2000ml) of Evaporated Milk and 250g of Feta cheese. I also added a couple of water biscuits and blended them in to develop the texture of the sauce. To build the dish I made a bed of lettuce, added the sliced potatoes, a few olives and a couple of quartered hard-boiled eggs and then I poured over the chilli cheese sauce.
This dish has been developed over hundreds of years and you can tell as it works so well together. The lettuce is not just the decoration as it gives crunch and dissipates the heat which the chillies provide. The potatoes soak the sauce up well and the salt in the cheese perfectly complements the smooth rich heat the Aji Amarillos create. They are not fire hot, but a lovely deep heat. I would be inclined to serve it as a starter, but I served it as a main with some roasted chicken thighs. We had four people round and each plate was wiped clean. This dish is a winner. Make it, it is very easy, and if you need the chillies then contact Chilli Pepper Pete, he knows what he is doing!