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Potato and Cheese Casserole - Pastel de Papas

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Potato and Cheese Casserole - Pastel de Papas

Potato and Cheese Casserole - Pastel de Papas

Marian Blazes

The city of Arequipa in southern Peru is known for this unique version of scalloped potatoes, which is prepared with a salty cheese called queso serrano (country cheese). Queso serrano is a key ingredient in other traditional recipes from Arequipa, including the corn and lima bean salad called solterito. The firm slices of cheese are layered with the sliced potatoes, and then a rich mixture of eggs and milk is poured over it all before baking.

This is a nice dish for holidays and family gatherings, or paired with a salad for a simple, satisfying supper. It reheats well and even tastes good cold.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 9x13 inch casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of white or yellow potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoons anise seeds
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound queso blanco cheese, or other semi-firm, white, salty cheese like farmer's cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation:

  1. Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices.

  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Slice the onion into 4 pieces and add the pieces to the water, along with 1 teaspoon salt, the peeled garlic cloves, and the anise seeds. Bring the water to a simmer and cook the potato slices until they are just barely tender.

  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and set them aside until cool enough to handle.

  4. Place the evaporated milk, corn starch, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  6. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and spread the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Slice the cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices.

  7. Place a layer of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the casserole, and cover them with a layer of sliced cheese. Repeat with more layers of potatoes and cheese until the casserole is full, pressing down on the layers to fit them in snugly. End with a layer of cheese slices.

  8. Pour the milk mixture over the layers of potatoes and cheese. Top the casserole with the grated Monterey jack cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese.

  9. Cover the casserole with a piece of foil and bake until the casserole is bubbly and hot, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the top of the casserole is golden brown.

  10. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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