My first venture into Latin American cuisine. Inspired by a trip a friend made in 2008 to Ecuador. Ground achiote powder & cooking oil replaced store bought achiote oil. Please note that turmeric or saffron cannot replace achiote. Their flavors are completely different. It is what gives the potato cakes their distinctive flavor. My understanding is that llapingachos are typically served alongside a fried egg, & a simple salad consisting of lettuce, tomato slices (that is if you're not serving them w/ the red onion relish); avocado & lime wedges. From ciaprochef.com.
Make the ACHIOTE OIL: Place the (corn) oil and 1 teaspoon of ground achiote in a saucepan. Use a fork to whisk together then gently heat the mixture on medium-low heat until warm. Set aside 5-10 minutes to infuse.
COOKING THE POTATOES: Place the potatoes in a medium pot with 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and mash, leaving the mixture slightly chunky.
MIXING AND SHAPING: When the puree cools a bit, but is still warm to the touch, add the scallions, cheese, black pepper, and salt. Mix well. Divide the puree into 24 balls—about one heaping tablespoon of puree for each ball. Flatten the balls to form patties 1 ½-inch wide by ½-inch thick. *Let cool for at least twenty minutes before cooking, otherwise they will stick to the pan and fall apart.*
COOKING THE LLAPINGACHOS: When the patties are cool and firm to the touch, heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add 1 ounce achiote oil and about 10 patties but do not crowd. Cook for 3 minutes at low heat to form a crust. With a narrow spatula, flip the patties over and brown them on the other side on medium heat for three minutes. Repeat the process with rest of the llapingachos.
RED ONION RELISH: Place onions in a medium bowl with the lime juice. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, hot peppers, and cilantro. Season with salt to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Serve llapingachos hot with a dollop of red onion relish.