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(by Carla Perez-Gallardo)

We have become so used to cooking in large quantities that when we are given the chance to cook for smaller groups, it almost becomes a challenge to think small. For this recipe, handed down by my grandmother’s sister Tia Rosario and reinterpreted by us at the restaurant, we’ve kept the quantity generous, because in her spirit, it is a dish eaten in her living room with cousins and friends and grandchildren, everyone balancing plates in their laps. Invite your friends over. First feed them some hot chicken soup. Then the llapingachos (pronounced ya - pin - ga - choz), crisp and gooey. For dessert, let them help you wash the dishes.


2 cinnamon sticks

1 t. whole cloves

2 t. whole cumin seeds

2 t. whole coriander seeds

1/4 c. annatto seeds

8 cloves garlic

1/4 c. canola oil

5 pinches salt

1/3 c. orange juice, plus zest of the orange(s)

Toast spices in a pan over medium flame until aromatic, about 3 minutes.

Combine with garlic, canola oil, salt, orange juice and zest.

Put all ingredients in a blender, and blend thoroughly until smooth.

(You’ll have some left over; use it to season grilled chicken, add color to soups or sauces. Can be refrigerated for one month.)

Potato-cheese balls:

20 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled

2 T. achiote

12 oz. muenster cheese, grated

2 bunches scallions, cut into fine shreds

Place potatoes in heavily salted boiling water until fully cooked.

Strain and allow to rest until they can be safely handled (not until cold; potatoes become gummy if they sit for too long).

Mash and mix thoroughly with achiote.

Allow mixture to cool.

Mix cheese and scallions.

Form evenly sized balls of potato, and make indentations with your thumb to hold the scallion//cheese mix.

Shape the filled balls into flat, round discs, and place on a parchment-covered sheet tray.

Peanut Salsa:

1 c. salted roasted peanuts

1 c. milk

1 c. orange juice, plus zest of the oranges

1 T. achiote

1 T. sugar

salt to taste

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and close to the consistency of maple syrup.

Warm slightly before serving.

Quick Pickle Slaw:

1/2 fresh pineapple

1/2 red onion

6 radishes

2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice

salt to taste

chile flakes to taste

small handful each fresh mint and cilantro, chopped

Brunoise (finely dice) pineapple.

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice red onion.

Shave radish into half moons.

Combine pineapple, radish, onion, lime juice, salt, and chile flakes.

Add mint and cilantro leaves right before serving.

vegetable oil for cooking

chile oil, to taste

To serve:

Warm a large pan or pancake griddle up to 325 F.

Lightly coat surface with oil, placing formed llapingachos in neat rows.

Allow each side to brown and form thin crust, about 8 minutes on each side.

After the first flip, press down lightly. If cheese begins to ooze out, you’re getting close.

(Don’t be afraid to let it get crispy as it oozes; the cheese crust is one of the best parts.)

Cooked llapingachos can be held in the oven at 250 degrees until they’re ready to share.

Place the llapingachos on a plate, slathering with warm peanut sauce.

Have someone fry eggs as you do this, one egg per guest.

Place a fried egg on top of each llapingacho, and serve with a spoonful of pickle slaw.

Drizzle chile oil over everything.


(Read Three Mothers, the story that accompanies this recipe.)

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