Gold Potato and Chicken Salad Mold

A couple weeks ago, the ESL (English as a Second Language) class at my library had its graduation party.  The students were asked to each bring in a dish that represents their respective countries then give a short speech about it.   Since over 15 countries were represented, the variety of dishes was mind-boggling.

Almost all the students knocked themselves out preparing dishes from scratch.  Those that brought in purchased items were good-naturedly razzed.  One student who didn't know how to cook admitted that she called up her mother and asked HER to make something.  Her speech consisted of, "my mom made this.  I do not know what it is."   BTW, she got the biggest round of applause.

The tutors and I (as ESL administrator) also contributed.  One tutor brought in a large tray of pigs in blankets (purchased).   Only two were eaten.  I felt bad for her.  I brought my Tabouli, which probably due to its vegan nature disappeared quickly.

One student brought in Causa Relleno, a Peruvian dish.  It was a gorgeous molded salad consisting of several layers of potato with a center of what looked like fish or chicken (I was busy signing all the students' certificates and forgot all about signing them until it was almost time to hand them out and so I wasn't fully listening).

Years ago I learned that if I serve a food molded, even if it's just rice packed into a pyrex cup then plopped out onto a plate, my family thinks it's gourmet fancy-schmancy.  But by the time I thought to ask for the recipe, the student had already packed up and left (gonna have to suggest that recipes be provided next session).

So I fired up the laptop and searched the intertubes for a similar recipe.   Half were of the chicken persuasion  (causa rellena de pollo); the other half were tuna (causa rellena de atun).  Both were called the "official" dish of Peru.   So I still don't know which version was served at the party.  When that student returns in the fall I'll have to finally ask her.

My recipe is a mash-up of the chicken version.  Mash-up!  You get it?  The main ingredient is MASHED potatoes!  ... hahahha ... oh, I kill me sometimes ...

The dish is supposed to be served cold.  Except I don't really like cold mashed potatoes.  So this version is served hot.  If you decide to serve this dish revenge-style, be really authentic and decorate the top with sliced hard-cooked eggs in addition to the olives and parsley.

The genuine article also has a layer of avocado slices.  Hubby doesn't like avocado, and it's less wasteful to omit it than to scape off the offending cooties avocado from his serving.  Personally, I think the layer of green would look and taste great.

If you have any leftover chicken from a previous dinner, use it and save a few steps.  Or, buy a pre-roasted chicken.  I bet the roasted flavor would add a little something extra.  And in a good way.

Gold Potato and Chicken Salad Mold
Serves 6 as an entree, 12 as a side-dish

1 small pkg. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 breasts, approx. 1 1/4 lbs.)
1 carrot, peeled and cut up (optional)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp.  coarsely ground black pepper, divided
3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes (approx. 8 potatoes)
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. oil from bottled garlic packed in oil
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. dijon mustard (such as Grey Poupon)
1 ripe avocado, skin and pit removed, sliced (optional)
1/2 cup Black olives, for garnish
A few sprigs parsley, for garnish
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced, for garnish (if dish served cold)

Place chicken breasts in a 3 qt. saucepan or small skillet.  Add water to cover.  Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Add carrot, if desired.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and barely simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through.  Remove chicken to cutting board (discard poaching liquid).  When cool enough to handle, shred chicken and place in large bowl.  Set aside.

While chicken is poaching, cut potatoes in quarters, then cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes, or until soft.  Drain potatoes.  When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes (a little skin remaining is fine), then mash a few times.  Add chile powder, garlic oil and lime juice, then mash completely.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard and the remaining salt and pepper.  Add to shredded chicken and gently mix together.

If serving the mold cold, line a medium straight-edge bowl with plastic wrap, leaving several inches overhang.  If planning to serve hot, line the bowl with parchment paper.

Spoon half of the potato mixture into the prepared bowl.  Pack down with back of spoon evenly to the edges.

Add all the chicken mixture and gently pack down evenly to edges.  Cover chicken with avocado, if using.

Spoon in remaining potato mixture and smooth to edges.

If not serving right away, place bowl, covered, in fridge until ready to serve.

If heating, nuke with cover on at 60% power for 8 minutes.

To unmold, place serving plate over top of bowl, carefully flip over and remove bowl.  Peel off paper or plastic.

 Decorate with olives, parsley and (optional) egg slices.  Slice and serve wedges.