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Causa Caliente

I’ve been wanting to try this second causa recipe, stuffed with chicken for awhile.  I was finally got my hands on bottled ají amarillo, the Peruvian peppers that are key to so many recipes but are difficult to find in New York.  Though usually served cold, roast chicken wrapped in yellow potatoes then slathered with cheese and lightly browned, seemed like the perfect early fall comfort food.  I’m always a little skeptical that it’s going to work, but the pureed potatoes combined with oil and peppers become a perfect kind of molding clay so the only difficult part is stopping yourself from playing with it incessantly so it has time to chill.

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Causa Calienta
This recipe is translated from Spanish and adapted from Yanuq.  A popular luncheon dish, I cut down the amounts by half and still had more than enough for a light lunch or dinner.  For the complete original recipe, click here.

Causa:
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup of ají amarillo*
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/8 cup of lime juice
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Filling:
2 skinless chicken breasts,  cooked and shredded
Mayonnaise
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
Cilantro, finely chopped
Sal
Freshly ground pepper

Covering:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Optional:
Hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in rounds
Lettuce
Tomato

*Though I still haven’t been able to find fresh ajis, the whole bottled peppers and paste are sold in many Latin American grocery stores.

Place potatoes in a medium pot. Cover with salted water and simmer over medium-high heat until tender, about 25-30 minutes.

When potatoes cool enough to handle, peel and force through ricer or food mill while still warm into a large mixing bowl.  Add oil, ají, lime juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.  Line a greased ceramic mold or glass dish with plastic wrap long enough to hang over the sides.  Using a rubber spatula, add one layer of the potato mixture on bottom and sides.  Leave aside a small amount of potato mixture to cover. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine chicken, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken to prepared mold with potatoes.  Add layer of tomatoes and top with cilantro.  Cover with remaining potato mixture forming compact layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till firm, about two hours.

Preheat broiler.  In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.  Unmold the causa onto a baking sheet and cover with mayonnaise dressing.  Place under broiler until golden as close as possible to the heat source so that the top browns but does not heat through.

Garnish with tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and chopped cilantro to taste.

Serves 4-6.

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