Peruvian Potato & Chicken Salad (Causa Rellena) – Behold the “Giver of Life”

There’s nothing very unusual, or interesting about serving a chicken or potato salad at a cookout, which is why this truly unique, Peruvian potato and chicken salad will cause such a stir. Or should I say, “causa” a stir, since in Peru that’s what this gorgeous dish is called. I’m told the name comes from the Inca word for “giver of life,” which is exactly what this will do to your summer picnic table.

Above and beyond the bold, vibrant flavors, this is unlike any other potato-based salad, in that we’re using mashed potatoes instead of cubes, or chunks, but it really does work beautifully, and the smooth, silky texture makes this even more refreshing to eat. Keep all that in mind the next time a heat wave rolls through your area.

I went very minimal with the cherry tomato garnish, but my Peruvian friends are letting me know that olives are a very traditional garnish, as are hardboiled eggs. If you do an image search, you’ll see all kinds of elaborate presentations, and that’s half the fun of making something like this, so go nuts. Regardless of how you dress yours up, or what ends up in your salad, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Appetizer-Sized Portions (in 6-oz ramekins):

For the potato mixture:
1 1/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, or russet
2 tablespoons Aji Amarillo chili paste, or to taste (see note below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 limes, juiced, or to taste
salt and cayenne to taste

For the chicken salad:
1 large cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup cooked diced carrots
2 tablespoons finely diced roasted red pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallot, or red onion
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayo, or as needed
salt and cayenne to taste
1 ripe avocado for layering with the salad

For the sauce:
1/3 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sour cream, optional
1 small crushed garlic clove
2 teaspoons Aji Amarillo chili paste, or to taste
a splash of water to adjust the thickness

Please Note: If you can’t find Aji Amarillo, you can make a paste from some fire-roasted and peeled orange or red bell peppers, and red Fresno chilies for some heat. While this does get you close, you should definitely try to find a jar of the real stuff, since it does have such a unique flavor.
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