See how to do it

Bolivian Silpancho

The best thing in the world to do with ground beef!

First, get 1 cups rice with 2 cups water heating on the stove. Also put 3 whole potatoes on to boil for about 10 minutes. Once cool enough to touch, you'll slice them like this (notice the insides are still raw). You're going to finish cooking them in a saute pan.

Massage salt and pepper into ground beef with your hands. Then you divide the ground beef into balls the size of limes. On top of a pile of breadcrumbs sprinkled with ground pepper, pat the first meatball into a patty. In Bolivia, you make your own breadcrumbs from stale bread by rolling a round piece over it on a stone tablet called batan. I've never seen it - can someone forward me a picture? (lindsay@lindsaysterling.com)

Coat each side with breadcrumbs and roll flat with a rolling pin on top of the breadcrumbs, flipping the meat over whenever it starts to stick. In Bolivia, she wouldn't use a rolling pin, but a stone to do this.

The final thickness should be like a crepe. She rolled each meatball out and stacked the rolled meat sheets on a plate. Then she pan seared each on medium high, flipping them when you could see raw pink start to turn brown.

She stacked each finished meat sheet on a plate, and then turned her attention to frying eggs and browning the potato rounds.

You top the dish with the salad of tomato, red onion, and green pepper. Bright, fresh, and crunchy, it breaks up the richness of the meat, eggs and potatoes. The dressing is equal parts vinegar and oil, plus generous salt.

This is quilquina, a very fragrant herb that tastes like nothing but itself. Rommy grew it from seed indoors in Maine! Cilantro could be substituted, but it's very different. In this dish it's used to top the fresh salad, and also ground into a hot sauce that's served on the side.

The hot sauce is calleed llajua [ya-hohwa]. She would have made it out of decoloto peppers at home, and without seeds, but here she used 4 jalapenos, including seeds and 2 tomatoes. She pu t them in a small manual food mill her mother had sent her. It had little blades which turned around by cranking a hand lever. She doesn't use an electric blender makes the tomatoes foamy. If she'd been in Bolivia and had an endless supply of quilquina she would have put a substantial handful in the llajua so that the sauce turned green. But her potted herb was dwindling along with the winter light.

Notice those golden potatoes. Mmm. She fried them in a large saute pan with about 1 Tbsp oil on a low enough temp to finish cooking the potatoes and brown each side in single layer not touching one another in the pan. Also, the rice is placed first on the plate, and all this other stuff she piled so beautifully on top of it.
Photos copyright Royal River Photograpy 2009 - Thanks David Holman!