Llapingachos are an Ecuadorian dish of potato patties or thick pancakes stuffed with cheese and cooked on a hot griddle until crispy brown. Llapingachos are typically served as a side dish for many Ecuadorian main courses; however llapingachos also make a great breakfast or brunch dish, and can be served on their own as an appetizer or even as a full meal accompanied by a tasty peanut sauce, fried egg, sausage, pickled onion and tomato salad, some lettuce, avocado slices and hot sauce.
These potato patties can be a little bit “tricky” to make (to quote my 5 year old), but I have a few tips from having failed to get them right several times that can help make the preparation relatively easy, and of course the more you make them the better you become at getting them just right. First of all, the type of potatoes that are used are very important, I tried making them with Yukon gold potatoes and it was disaster, the flavors were great but the consistency was just too soft, so I recommend using Russet potatoes or a potato that is very starchy. Next, let the potato mixture rest for at least an hour before making the patties, when preparing the patties and filling them with cheese make sure the cheese is stuffed well enough to keep it from seeping through to the surface and burning during the cooking process, and once the patties are formed, let them also rest for at least 30 minutes. Finally, when cooking the llapingachos, avoid using any oil or grease, this will help prevent them from breaking up, and also it helps to use a griddle, but regardless of whether you use a griddle or a frying pan make sure it is well heated, and kind of like making that first pancake you can assess how hot and how long the llapingachos needs to cook on each side to have that nice crispy brown finish; I used to turn them several times back and forth, but if you let them cook long enough on each side and just turn them once the results are much better, and since the patties are pretty delicate you have to be careful when turning them.
The ingredients below should make about 12 medium sized llapingachos; you can make the patties smaller if you are serving them as appetizers.
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 tbs sunflower oil
½ cup finely chopped white onion
2 tsp ground achiote
1 cup grated Mozzarella or Fontina cheese
Salt to taste
- Boil the potatoes until soft
- Heat the oil over medium high heat to make a refrito, add the onions and achiote, cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Mash the potatoes, mix in the onion refrito and salt to taste.
- Cover the potato dough and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
- Make small golf size balls with the potato dough.
- Make a hole in the middle of each ball and fill with the grated or crumbled cheese.
- Shape the dough into thick patties and let rest in the refrigerator for about ½ to 1 hour.
- Cook the patties on a hot griddle until browned on each side, be careful when turning them as they will be very delicate.
- Serve with a fried egg, peanut sauce, tomato and onion curtido, avocado slices and hot sauce.