Causa rellena is a unique Peruvian dish made of seasoned potato puree layered with chicken or seafood salad. The presentation of this dish can be quite dramatic (it's definitely a favorite of the fancy Peruvian restaurant set), as the causa can be molded into different shapes and is often intricately decorated with garnishes such as avocado, olives, hard boiled eggs and sauces. The potato layers are sometimes vividly different colors (made with blue potatoes, or made green with parsley or avocado, for example).This causa is prepared with sweet potatoes, which are seasoned with some aji amarillo sauce and a touch of orange, then layered with cranberry sauce (a North American touch) and garnished with pecans and dried cranberries. This dish makes a pretty first course for a fancy holiday meal, but is also an excellent way to use leftover candied yams or any kind of leftover sweet potatoes after the big holiday meal.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 appetizer servings.
- 4 large sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup brown sugar or grated chancaca
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup aji amarillo sauce
- 1/2 cup cranberry sauce or cranberry chutney
- 1/4 cup walnuts and dried cranberries for garnish
- 4 empty condensed milk cans to use as molds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scrub the sweet potatoes well and prick them all over with a fork. Place them in the oven and bake the potatoes until they are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 30-45 minutes, depending on size. (If you are in a hurry, you can microwave the potatoes on high in 3 minute intervals until they are tender).
- While the potatoes are baking, prepare the aji amarillo sauce (see recipe here).
- When the potatoes come out of the oven, carefully cut the hot potatoes in half lengthwise, letting the steam escape. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scrape the potato flesh from the skin. Pass the potatoes through a ricer to remove any lumps or stringy pieces. You should have about 4 cups. (If using leftover cooked potatoes, pass them through the ricer as well).
- Place the brown sugar, butter, and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is dissolved. Stir this mixture into the potatoes, along with 2-4 tablespoons of the aji amarillo sauce (to taste). Season potato mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the tops and bottoms from the condensed milk can to make a tube. Light grease the inside of the can with butter or vegetable oil. Stretch a piece of plastic wrap over one end of each can and secure it with a rubber band. Place the cans, plastic side down, on a flat pan or plate.
- Press 1/3 cup of the potato mixture into the bottom of each can. Try to make the potatoes as level as possible. Top the potatoes with 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce. Add another 1/3 cup of the potato mixture to each can and smooth layer. Add another tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Top with a final 1/3 cup of potatoes and press down, smoothing the top of the potato layer. If you have a small glass or similar object, use the bottom flat surface to help compact the potatoes into the can.
- Cover the top of each can with another piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve: Remove plastic wrap from cans and place each can over serving plate. Tap the can firmly once, onto the plate, then slowly lift to remove the can. Smooth potatoes with a knife if necessary.
- Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and dried cranberries, and decorate plate with remaining sauce if desired. Warm potatoes gently in the microwave or serve at room temperature.