An Ambato specialty, and one of my favorite dishes from Ecuador, which I can never quite recreate. I’ve tried a few times to make them the way my host mother taught me, only to have them fall short. Today I tried a slightly different method, thanks once again to Laylita’s Recipes. Wow. These were closest I’ve gotten yet, and absolutely amazing! Definitely the best way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. I served these topped with a simple peanut sauce and a chicken soup (made from the chicken and roasted vegetables also leftover from Christmas dinner), but I will have to try them again some time with their traditional accompaniments of avocado, fried egg or meat, curtido, and ají (A mild Ecuadorian hot sauce).
As a shortcut, I fried two onions with achiote and salt, then reserved some for the peanut sauce before mixing the rest into the mashed potatoes.
Generous sprinkle achiote and salt, or to taste
Leftover mashed potatoes (best right out of the fridge)
Saute onion for a few minutes until soft, then add achiote and salt and cook for a minute longer, stirring constantly to minimize sticking. Mix with chilled mashed potatoes, form into golf-size balls and flatten into thick discs. Heat an ungreased cast-iron skillet or griddle and cook on medium heat until golden on both sides. Yum!
Salsa de Mani (Ecuadorian Peanut Sauce)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup liquid (I used chicken broth from the soup, typically made with milk)
Generous sprinkle achiote, salt, and cumin, to taste
Minced cilantro and green onion (optional, I didn’t include)
Whisk together peanut butter and half of the liquid. In a small skillet, sauté onion with achiote until soft (or use reserved onion from making the llapingachos). Add peanut mixture, cumin, and remaining liquid to the pan, and simmer about 3-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened to your liking. Stir in cilantro and onion if desired. Spoon over llapingachos (or papas en cascara, small potatoes boiled whole in their skins) and enjoy!