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Author Notes: Causa is a beloved specialty that originated in the cosmopolitan, urbane cuisine of Lima, Peru’s capital. Over the decades, it has spread throughout the country, picking up local ingredients and seasonings along the way. At its most basic, causa is a cold, savory potato layer cake; here, it has an inner layer of chicken salad, and is topped with the typical Peruvian fixings of hardboiled eggs, avocado, and olives. It is a summertime essential that can serve as an appetizer, entrée, snack, or hors d’oeuvre.
This dish requires ají amarillo paste, which is an essential part of Peruvian cuisine. The flavor is irreplaceable. It can be found jarred in most Latino markets, as well as online, fairly economically. If you cannot get your hands on it, puree any fresh chiles and add to your taste.
The chicken in the filling can be replaced with canned tuna, crabmeat, poached shrimp, hearts of palm, or anything else you desire.
The assembly instructions below serve as a guideline. Feel free to arrange and decorate the causa according to your personal aesthetic. You can make individual servings using ring molds or ramekins lined with plastic wrap. You can also make bite-sized causa balls and spoon the chicken salad on top.
This causa is delicious on its own, but it is so much better with salsa golf (recipe below). You can drizzle the entire causa with the sauce or add it to individual servings. —Carlos C Olaechea
- 3 pounds (about 6) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1/4 yellow onion, peeled
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1 pound poached chicken breast, chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup diced carrots, cooked until tender
- 1/3 cup green peas, cooked until tender
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Juice of 4 limes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for greasing the pan
- 2 tablespoons ají amarillo paste
- Sliced avocado, hardboiled eggs, and pitted botija or kalamata olives to garnish
- Place potatoes in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Fill pot with enough cold water to cover potatoes and add yellow onion and garlic cloves.
- Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes. To test for doneness, use a knife to pierce a slice of potato. If it goes through easily, the potatoes are cooked.
- When the potatoes are cooked through, turn off the burner, and drain the water from the pot. Place the pot back onto the burner and cover with lid. Let the potatoes sit for about 15 minutes to finish cooking the potatoes. You want the potatoes to be mostly dry.
- After the 15 minutes, uncover the pot. Pass potatoes along with the onion and garlic through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken salad. Place the poached chicken, peas, carrots, mayonnaise, and garlic powder into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- When riced potatoes have cooled to room temperature, add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, lime juice, and ají amarillo paste and continue to mix until potatoes are a uniform yellow color. Add salt to taste. Adjust lime juice and/or ají amarillo paste, if necessary. The flavor of the potatoes should be tart and somewhat spicy.
- Lightly grease the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with oil, being sure to coat the sides. Use your hands or a spatula to evenly spread 1/3 of the potato mixture inside the pan.
- Now add the chicken salad and spread evenly over the potatoes. Cover with the remaining potato mixture, spreading out evenly and smoothly. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours to chill and set.
- When ready to serve, remove causa from the refrigerator. Remove plastic wrap and place on a serving platter. Unfasten the latch of the springform pan. Remove the side of the pan from the causa. Smooth the top and sides of the causa, if necessary. Garnish with sliced avocado, hardboiled eggs, and olives. Drizzle entire causa with salsa golf, if using, and slice it like a cake to serve.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon pisco, brandy, or vodka
- Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. You can either drizzle this sauce onto the causa with a spoon or transfer to a squeeze bottle for more control.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!