Peruvian purple potatoes with Crema de Rocoto
Eight years ago, I got my first real college job. One that does not include taking orders behind a counter. At that new job, I developed a strong friendship with a girl from Peru. She spoke very little English, and I knew very few words in Spanish, yet somehow, we hit it off.
Once she invited me over to a family barbecue, I think it was for her daughters birthday. It was so sweet of her to include me, but honestly it was an awkward affair
- as most of her family only spoke Spanish, and I, with a friend, did not. We smiled at each other, and tried to make conversation using gestures and the random words we did know in each others language.
In the end we sort of gave up and just enjoyed the food. Me and my friend at one table, and the family at another. I remember we had chicken, potatoes and salad. And I cannot recall the details of those dishes, but one thing that has stayed vivid in my memory, was the sauce my friend made to accompany the plates.
Peruvian Potatoes with Crema de Rocoto
8-10 purple/blue potatoes
6 leaves green lettuce
6 oz queso fresco, cubed
4-8 salty saltine crackers, broken
up to 1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
up to 1 rocoto pepper, seeded and de-veined
In a large pot, boil the potatoes until soft. Be careful not to over cook-they tend to fall apart if cooked too long. In another pot, boil the eggs. Once the water has come to a boil, cook for eight minutes longer. In the meantime, mix the cheese, four crackers, oil, red bell pepper, and about 1/2 of the rocoto in a blender. Add about half the amount of milk and blend. If it is too thick to blend add more milk. Blend until combined. Taste, and adjust flavor. If it is not very spicy, add more rocoto, a quarter at a time. If is is too thin in consistency, add more queso and crackers. Adjust until you have found the right balance in flavors. Be careful not to add too many saltine crackers as they have a distictive taste that can stand out if too many are added. Also be very careful to wash your hands after handling the rocoto, it is very spicy! In a serving platter, arrange the lettuce leaves, add the cooked potatoes, cubed, and the hard boiled egg on top. Top with the crema de rocoto and serve. Best if served right when the potatoes are hot, and be sure to bring extra crema to the table as I am positive you will be adding more.