Since my previous post, the sky has cleared, and the air has improved here, but another heatwave has struck. This is limiting our outdoor activities again, but there never seems to be a shortage of things to do indoors! One way I like to “bring a little sunshine” into our home is by looking back on past trips and attempting to remake a dish that fascinated our taste buds.
Notes: This post was last updated on July 25, 2021. Scout is not affiliated with or endorsed by Avocados from Peru, nor does the association approve of this blog or its content.
The last place we toured was Peru. We prepared by reading about the country, cities, sights, histories, and cultures in our DK Eye Witness Travel guide. We explored Machu Picchu, Saqsaywaman, museums, markets, a church, a cemetery, and a school, and watched food, pottery, textile, and jewelry demonstrations – all within a week! The experience was so “wow” that we’ve considered going back. In fact, there were repeat visitors in our group!
As we hopped from one sight to the other, we noticed a pattern in the cuisine. It was very fresh and vibrant in flavor with recognizable yet harmonious ingredients. We observed this even at the airport!
At one dinner, we were introduced to Causa Rellena. The layered potato, avocado, and chicken appetizer resembled a Peruvian potato salad – perfect for a picnic indoors or outdoors, depending on the presentation. It was so good, we ordered it again. I was excited to learn how to make it for us, family, and friends.
When we settled back in at home, I searched for a recipe that included the main ingredients and found “Causa Limena with Chicken” at Avocados from Peru. After completing all of the steps and practicing a few times, I successfully recreated what we had. I felt like a celebration was in order – and we did celebrate by eating it! Now, I’m sharing how I made it with you.
Preparation Time, Servings, Ingredients, and Special Tools
- Preparation Time: 2½ hours
- Servings: 6
- 4 white potatoes (or 8 small ones)
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons of aji amarillo (yellow hot pepper)
- 1 lime
- 1 eight-ounce chicken breast (or 2 four-ounce ones)
- Extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 4 avocados
- 2 more limes
- Cilantro sprigs
- Salt and pepper
- Special Tools
- A 2½-inch diameter, 1-inch tall cookie cutter
- A small spoon
- A metal spatula
Notes: I used white potatoes because the traditional yellow potatoes were not available to me, but I found that they served as a blank canvas for the olive oil, aji amarillo, and lime in a good way. The aji amarillo was a touch spicy as well as sweet, but the amount used did not overpower the dish. It is always best to taste and adjust to your individual preference at each step. I used cilantro because I like to make pesto with the rest of it.
Wash the potatoes, limes, avocados, and cilantro sprigs well. Place the potatoes in a pot and fill with water until covered. Set the stove to medium heat, bring to a boil in about 20 minutes, and boil for an additional 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken on a cutting board and season with salt and pepper. Spray a pot with olive oil and set the stove to medium heat. Transfer the chicken to the pot and sear lightly on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the broth to the pot. When boiling, turn the heat down to simmer, add the chicken back, and cover with a lid. Wash and dry the cutting board.
Simmer the chicken for 20 minutes on each side for a total of 40 minutes. Remove from the pot and place on the cutting board. When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, allow to rest for 20 minutes.
With the forks, shred the chicken as finely as possible and transfer to a bowl. Mix in mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready for layering. Wash and dry the cutting board.
Back to the Potatoes
When the potatoes have cooled, remove the skin and transfer to a bowl. Cut a lime in half and add olive oil, aji amarillo, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and mix until as smooth as possible. Cover and set aside. Put the potato skins and leftover lime in a lined compost bin.
Cut the avocados, remove the pitt and skin, and transfer to a bowl. Cut another lime and add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mash and mix well. Put the avocado pit and skin and leftover lime in a lined compost bin.
Place the cookie cutter on the cutting board. Fill it halfway with the potato mixture. Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture down and smooth it out. Fill the rest of the way with the chicken mixture, press down, and smooth out. Slide the spatula under the ring and transfer the layers to a serving plate. Using the back of the spoon, carefully remove the ring.
Place the ring back on the cutting board. Fill with the avocado mixture and more of the potato mixture, pressing down and smoothing out. Transfer on top of the layers on the serving plate. Carefully remove the ring.
Cut the last lime and garnish with lime slices and cilantro sprigs. Repeat 5 more times, serve, and celebrate your creations!
Skip or Break Up Steps
- Use the breast of a roasted chicken you prepared for another meal or a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
- For the fancy presentation, prepare the potato and chicken mixtures ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, prepare the avocado mixture and layer the portions.
- For a more portable presentation, layer the potato, chicken, and avocado mixtures all at once in a square or rectangular container. When ready to serve, cut even portions from the container.
Set the Mood
- Decorate the eating area with a gorgeous Peruvian manta. Lay the colorful, cotton fabric over the table for a special lunch or dinner, the grass for an outdoor picnic, or the carpet for an indoor picnic.
- Play Peruvian music while preparing, as well as celebrating, the dish. Music builds excitement and can make cooking and cleaning a breeze!
Try variations of the dish.
- Add diced apple, such as golden delicious or honey crisp, and green peas to the chicken salad.
- Use a different potato, such as purple or sweet potato.
- Substitute aji amarillo with wasabi paste and chicken with tuna.
The possibilities are endless!