Friday, May 24, 2019

Peruvian Potato & Chicken Salad (Causa Rellena) – Behold the “Giver of Life”

There’s nothing very unusual, or interesting about serving a chicken or potato salad at a cookout, which is why this truly unique, Peruvian potato and chicken salad will cause such a stir. Or should I say, “causa” a stir, since in Peru that’s what this gorgeous dish is called. I’m told the name comes from the Inca word for “giver of life,” which is exactly what this will do to your summer picnic table.

Above and beyond the bold, vibrant flavors, this is unlike any other potato-based salad, in that we’re using mashed potatoes instead of cubes, or chunks, but it really does work beautifully, and the smooth, silky texture makes this even more refreshing to eat. Keep all that in mind the next time a heat wave rolls through your area.

I went very minimal with the cherry tomato garnish, but my Peruvian friends are letting me know that olives are a very traditional garnish, as are hardboiled eggs. If you do an image search, you’ll see all kinds of elaborate presentations, and that’s half the fun of making something like this, so go nuts. Regardless of how you dress yours up, or what ends up in your salad, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Appetizer-Sized Portions (in 6-oz ramekins):

For the potato mixture:
1 1/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, or russet
2 tablespoons Aji Amarillo chili paste, or to taste (see note below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 limes, juiced, or to taste
salt and cayenne to taste

For the chicken salad:
1 large cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup cooked diced carrots
2 tablespoons finely diced roasted red pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallot, or red onion
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayo, or as needed
salt and cayenne to taste
1 ripe avocado for layering with the salad

For the sauce:
1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream, optional
1 small crushed garlic clove
2 teaspoons Aji Amarillo chili paste, or to taste
a splash of water to adjust the thickness

Please Note: If you can’t find Aji Amarillo, you can make a paste from some fire-roasted and peeled orange or red bell peppers, and red Fresno chilies for some heat. While this does get you close, you should definitely try to find a jar of the real stuff, since it does have such a unique flavor.


quiet mike said...

Aji Amarillo chili paste, see note below missing?

Unknown said...

Great recipe John But I can't see the note for the Aji Amarillo chili paste alternative

Taliver Heath said...

I'd bet for the picnic version, you could make a bunch at once in a cupcake pan.

FoodwishesAddict said...

Chef John, this is a perfect recipe for Causa. I lived in Peru for many years, and I should know. One tip: if you are lucky enough to find the aji amarillo in jars (as shown), be aware that it goes bad very rapidly. Since it is hard to find where I live, I just freeze it in icecube trays, and it lasts for a very long time. I love your blog, and everyone I know knows it!

justin423 said...

Oddly enough, I found brine soaked Aji Amarillo peppers, but not the paste, and just to add insult to injury, there is a recipe for causa right on the can that requires the paste. But all is not lost, to make the paste, you take the peppers and rinse them multiple times to remove the salt brine, and then throw them in the blender with a small amount of rapeseed or vegetable oil to make the paste.

FatPatty13 said...

I asked a former coworker who left plumbing to open a Hispanic market about the aji Amarillo paste and as someone said above her said it spoiled quickly but his wife makes it regularly for the store. I actually made this recipe with her assistance and it was so good she's decided to make it a summer deli choice.

tim said...

funny serious eats just came out with same...collusion?

Philippe et Émilie said...

Hey john, can you not add avocados to the list? Got caught with my pants down!

Unknown said...

So when I made these I made like 6, and I'm wondering: do these freeze/ thaw well or should I have these with nearly every meal for almost the next week?

Chicagojohn13 said...

Aji Amarillo chili paste can be purchased online.

Paul said...

Found aji amarillo in my local Hispanic supermarket. Be warned, it is a little spicy due to the red pepper in the sauce but in this recipe should be fine since it's being accompanied by chicken salad and avocados

gggreggg said...

it is called a "ricer" because, if one has a generous imagination, the extruded potato looks like rice.