April 30, 2014

Y Is for Yapingachos

Originating in Ambato Province, Llapingachos (aka Yapingachos) are an Ecuadorian dish of potato patties stuffed with cheese and are a fun way to use leftover mashed potatoes. (Or you can start from scratch as the recipe here shows.)

Served with a fried egg and slices of avocado, they make a high-protein vegetarian meal. The potato cakes also may be used as a side dish for a simple roast chicken or broiled fish or even as a first course with a small cucumber salad. We like them best served with a zesty peanut sauce (salsa de mani) — recipe below.

Yapingachos (Ecuadorian Stuffed Potato Patties)
Makes 12

Photo courtesy of Marinita y Su Cosina

5 large potatoes, 3 lbs, peeled, and cut into chunks 
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup finely chopped white onion
2 tsp ground achiote (or mild paprika — this is for color)
1 cup grated cheese (Traditionally queso fresco or quesillo, but mozzarella can work. Cheddar may be okay, but will change the flavor.)
Salt to taste
Peanut sauce (optional)

1. Boil the potatoes until soft.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the onions and achiote, cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Mash the potatoes, mix in the onion mixture, and salt to taste.
4. Cover the potato dough and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
(The above can be done up to a day or two in advance. In fact, if you serve mashed potatoes with dinner one night, make extra. The onion/paprika mix can be added just before Inst. 5.)

5. Using the potato mixture, make 1.5 inch balls (12). 
6. Make a hole in the middle of each, then fill with the cheese, pulling the dough up to hide the cheese.
7. Shape the potato balls into thick patties. Let these rest in the refrigerator for about 30 to 60 minutes.
8. Prepare a hot griddle or frying pan. Cook the patties until browned on each side. Be careful when turning them because they are delicate. In fact, it is best to cook them until browned completely and crispy on one side, then turn them only once. 
9. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Your choice. 

Peanut Sauce (Aji de Mani) 

Aji de Mani
Photo courtesy of recetaecuatoriana.com

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic,minced
1/2 tomato, peeled, seeded & chopped 
0 to 2 zesty peppers, seeded and cut into strips (depends on how spicy you want the sauce)
3/4 cup evaporated milk (not the sweet kind)
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. 
2. Add onion, garlic, tomato and pepper. Sauté about 8 to 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from heat; cool for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the evaporated milk and peanuts. Puree until smooth. 
4. Season with salt; stir in olive oil.


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  1. I love potatoes, and I love cheese, so this sounds yummy!

  2. this sounds great. I forwarded the recipe to my resident chef. OK, my husband is great about making dinner :-)

  3. Rhonda -- Hope you enjoy them. We are big fans. Deborah -- My husband calls himself the Executive Chef. He comes up with ideas and wants me to execute them. Some are even good ideas. :-)