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Llapingachos


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#1 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:23 AM


I thought about it a bit, and decided that Llapingachos (llapis for short) are probably better discussed than they are RecipeGulleted, since the recipe is less important than the technique..... These are potato pancakes, often stuffed with queso fresco, and they're the only accompaniment necessary for many pork dishes.


Llapingachos seem to be pretty much endemic to Ecuador, and are a specialty of the city in which I live, Ambato, where they form part of the "typical plate" of the city (which includes chunks of fried Ambato chorizo, strips of lechon horneado [suckling pig roasted in a wood oven], slices of avocado, a fried egg, and a mound of quick-pickled beets.)


In general, these are the ingredients (which I'm giving proporitonally, obviously you can make more or less):

5-10 lbs of Cecilia or Chola potatoes (yellow-skinned, non-waxy), peeled and cubed

1 lb of butter or fresh pork drippings

1 lb or so of queso fresco

Achiote oil


Llapis may be either a side dish or a main course, depending on how you approach them and how big you make them. The basic recipe is simple: Cecilia or Chola potatoes (yellow-skinned, non-waxy types) are skinned, boiled, and mashed with your choice of freshly-rendered pork drippings or fresh salted butter. This is set aside to stiffen up and cool (the ladies who make llapis for a living make up entire large wooden trays a day in advance). Ideally, the potato mixture should be stiff enough to form into balls and hold its shape, but soft enough to flatten the base of the ball when dropped onto a griddle.


The stuffing is normally queso fresco crumbled with a bit of green onion and cilantro, but may also be straight QF, or may be QF wrapped around a slice of chorizo. It all depends on the streetcart and the llapi lady. I have also had exemplary llapis where the QF was mixed directly in with the potatoes, and other excellent ones that are not stuffed at all.


The next step is to heat up your griddle (or your baking tray!) and get it good and greasy with achiote oil (if you don't have this, extract some achiote seeds into your favourite high smokepoint oil. The achiote is absolutely essential.) Now pick up about a handful of mashed potatoes. If you've chosen to mix the QF right into the potato masa, you can drop this onto the griddle gently. If not, pick up a smaller handful of filling, flatten the ball of potato somewhat, and stuff it in, forming the potato back into a ball when you're done, and drop it onto the griddle gently. Using your spatula, dollop a bit of achiote oil over the top of the potato balls.


This is a traditional llapingacho stall at the downtown market - you can see what I'm talking about here.

Modelo-LlapinGrill.jpg


And now for the hard part. Leave it alone. Llapingachos are turned exactly once before they're served. 5-8 minutes on, and it's time to flip the llapis - do it gently, and press down just a bit to flatten them out somewhat. Then leave them alone again for 5-8 minutes more (gauge how long by how golden the tops are - if you left the llapis for 7 minutes and they're dark, give them 7 minutes more. If they were just starting to be crunchy and gold, maybe give them a bit more time.)


Obviously, these are best when hot.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#2 Charcuterer

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:03 AM

Thank you for this! I can't wait to make some.

#3 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:14 AM

Another thing I'd like to mention here: if you Google llapingachos, you'll find a huge number of recipes that say they're served with peanut sauce. Well, I live where these things were invented, and I can tell you right now: they're not. Creamy peanut sauce is the accompaniment for the boiled new potatoes served with roast cuy.

I'm not sure where this got started (possibly on the coast, and then shame on all those people for thinking that was the tradtional way!), but I'd love to put an end to it. I've had llapis up and down the highlands here, and they've never ever come with peanut anything.

(Edit - a doog spellar and grammaticist is me!)

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense, 07 June 2012 - 11:15 AM.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#4 Darienne

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:29 AM

After reading about llapingachos in your post and watching a video in English and a couple in Spanish and wow! This I am going to make. Thank you.
Darienne


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#5 Jaymes

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:39 AM

I've made something similar for years, having learned it from my Mexican friends.

I don't know if there is a specific name for it, though.

Basically, it's how they (I) use up leftover mashed potatoes. You roll your leftover potatoes into balls about 2" or so in diameter, the size of a large lemon, I suppose. Then take some cheese, whatever you have on hand, or like. You poke a hole into your mashed potato ball and shove the cheese in. Then flatten the ball somewhat into the shape of a fat patty, taking care not to expose the cheese.

At this point, you can roll your patties in crushed cornflakes if you like, or in plain flour lightly seasoned, or panko or whatever you like.

Then you fry them in your skillet and serve at once.

Interesting to me that this seems like such an obvious way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, but I never heard of them until I started hanging around with my Mexicana compadres. And Mexico doesn't have a particularly strong "potato culture." I think that's because beans and rice and corn got such a strong foothold there, and after all, you only need just so many starches.

Vs the USA, where potatoes are ubiquitous. But these leftover mashed potato patties seem unheard of to the average American home cook.

And now you're making them in Ecuador.

Food and culture are endlessly interesting to me.

#6 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 03:18 PM

Not so much "now you're making them in Ecuador" Jaymes - potatoes originated in this general area (well, from about Ambato to about Cuzco). We've been making them here for centuries.
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#7 Charcuterer

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 04:08 PM

Panaderia Canadiense, Do you salt the potatoes or does the seasoning come from the QF?

I have my pork in the marinade to start smoking on Saturday night. The Pilsner beer you recommend is not available here but I used a Mexican pilsner style beer. We have decided that we will do the beet salad with avocado for our other side. I am so excited about trying an ecuadorian dish! meal. I hope it will pass muster. I don't know if I will be able to attempt Cuy, the only place I could get the raw ingredients is a pet store and they may frown on me cooking their inventory :smile:

#8 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 04:16 PM

The salt in mine comes from the butter and the QF (since I rarely roast a whole pig to go with 'em; I'm a chori on a stick over charcoal kind of gal), and then after they're cooked I'll salt them to taste. This is a peculiarity of how I learned to cook (my mother undersalts and my father oversalts; I prefer something in the middle, but in the kitchen all is equal - we don't salt very much at all in the pan, and everybody adjusts at the table.) You can, of course, pre-salt (even in the boiling water, which is what I suspect the llapi ladies do) - but do it to taste. As I mentioned above, llapis are less a recipe and more a method.

Pilsener-type beer is all that's really needed; Ecuadorian Pilsener isn't even available in bordering towns in Colombia and Peru, so I certainly wouldn't expect it in the US!
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#9 Jaymes

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 04:59 PM

Not so much "now you're making them in Ecuador" Jaymes - potatoes originated in this general area (well, from about Ambato to about Cuzco). We've been making them here for centuries.


Right you are. What I meant to say was that "now I HEAR you're making them in Ecuador!"

#10 JTravel

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 05:29 PM

Thank you so much...I too love these food and culture lessons.

Hope I'm not off topic, but I am wondering about eating street food in Ambato. I know you are a local now, but did you have any issues with food when you first arrived? These seem like a pretty safe sort of thing ...always assuming hands are clean.

I will work on making some of these...always on the lookout for food lessons for the grandkids.

Jaymes: when I was a kid my mother always "used up" the leftover chilled mashed potatoes in a similar way. No microwave to easily reheat them so they were packed into patties and fried in butter. Loved them....haven't had them in years.

#11 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 06:18 PM

I have never had a single issue with street food here, not in any of my five years of residency. The three times I've had food poisoning, it's always been from restaurants. Then again, with street carts, you can see exactly what's going on and make an informed decision.
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#12 Jaymes

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:41 PM

I have never had a single issue with street food here, not in any of my five years of residency. The three times I've had food poisoning, it's always been from restaurants. Then again, with street carts, you can see exactly what's going on and make an informed decision.


Also, if you look for the street cart with the longest line of customers, that's a pretty good indication that the food is fresh and safe. And, of course, tasty.

#13 Jenni

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 08:38 PM

These look rather similar to aloo tikki, which are one of my favourite street foods ever! You can be damn sure I'm going to try this, as aloo tikki stuffed with paneer (my sub for queso fresco) sounds very very fine indeed.

#14 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 06:49 AM


I have never had a single issue with street food here, not in any of my five years of residency. The three times I've had food poisoning, it's always been from restaurants. Then again, with street carts, you can see exactly what's going on and make an informed decision.


Also, if you look for the street cart with the longest line of customers, that's a pretty good indication that the food is fresh and safe. And, of course, tasty.


Ah, yes. My favourite downtown cart (which, frustratingly, is never in the same spot twice) sells arepa de guaranda, which are big, thick buckwheat pancakes stuffed with queso fresco that's been fried in achiote oil with salt. The "lineup" (well, the arepa scrum) is normally 5-10 people deep, and you sort of fight your way in to buy the 50 cent arepa. Well worth it. One time I caught this cart just as she'd kindled up her fire, and I got the first arepa off the griddle. It was amazing.

Then again, we have three rules for eating out:
1. Does it smell good?
2. Is it busy?
3. Is there a cop eating there?

Adherence to any two of the rules means that it's safe. All three is a jackpot - the cop is in the rules because police here are creatures of habit, won't eat at places with bad food, nor will they eat at places that are heinously expensive.

And bringing us back around to the topic, a food-rule jackpot is what led me to what is now my favourite llapingacho stall in the Mercado Modelo. There is an entire city-block's length of llapingacho sellers in this market, so you're spoiled for choice, and they'll all compete for your custom. The first time Mom and I went up there we were almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of sellers that wanted us to try their llapis (and you can play this to your advantage, since they'll normally offer you a handfull of horneado to get you hooked....) The seller we ended up with was so swamped with people that she didn't even try to call us in; there was a policewoman with her elbows out fighting not to get swept off her seat at the counter. It smelled heavenly, so that's where we ate. We've tried others since, but we keep coming back to Clarita's, simply because (as the crowd knew full well) they're the best.
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#15 Charcuterer

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:12 AM

I am trying to find ingredients to make roast pork in an Ecuadorian style to go along with the llapingachos and have found a plethora of things I can't get in Nashville Tennessee. Toamte de Arbol, Ahi peppers and achogcha are three of them. I'm also having a beast of a time finding achiote seeds (I have found the ground variety)

#16 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:32 AM

Use the ground achiotes, or if you've got a Caribbean grocer, try there (you may also find the achogcha - it's quite popular in the Caribbean). Barring that, if you've got a Lao or Viet grocery, try them. You might not find the achiote, but the achogcha will again become possible (as "stuffing cucumbers") and if you can find bird chilies they're quite similar to aji.

This is really funny, actually - if you were in New Jersey, I could send you to an Ecuadorian grocery and you'd probably find everything you needed and a bit more besides.
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#17 Darienne

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 12:04 PM

I am trying to find ingredients to make roast pork in an Ecuadorian style to go along with the llapingachos that Panaderia Canadiense posted the thread on and have found a plethora of things I can't get in Nashville Tennessee. Toamte de Arbol, Ahi peppers and achogcha are three of them. I'm also having a beast of a time finding achiote seeds (I have found the ground variety)

Ha! :raz: You can't find them. I don't even know what they are. Hello, Google.

...but then a few days ago I'd never heard of llapingachos either. Such an education I'm getting on eG...

Edited by Darienne, 08 June 2012 - 12:05 PM.

Darienne


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#18 Charcuterer

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 12:06 PM

Before my current quest I didn't either! That's one of my favorite things about cooking and eGullet; I learn so much!

#19 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 06:58 AM

Charcuterer, I'm burning with curiousity! How did Ecuadorian night go over at your Sunday table?
Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.
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#20 Charcuterer

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 06:52 AM

It was marvelous! The Llapis were wonderful! I said to my wife, "where has this annato infused oil been all my life!" The pork was excellent though you might not have recognised it as Ecuadorian roast pork. After the marinade I put a dry rub on it with the same flavors from the marinade; cumin, garlic, lime (zest), pepper and salt. Then the pork was smoked for 17 hours at 200F (93C) basted with annato infused butter for the last 3 hours. I did a (very) non-authentic BBQ sauce with the flavors of the rub in tomato sauce with some brown sugar. My pickled onions were (quote from my wife) "weird" so we did a simple salad of greens, beets and unpickled onions. I wish I had taken a picture it was a wonderful end to my quest!

Thank you so much for your guidance and patience with me while I planned the whole thing out!
Jim