Papa rellenas may have originated in Peru, but there are plenty of countries who have adapted their own version of the recipe which have made the dish extremely versatile!

The name literally translates to stuffed potatoes so it’s no surprise that the recipe consists of a potato dough filled with a meat mixture. The the filling can be changed according to who’s making it which is what makes this dish a favorite of mine. 

In Peru, the potatoes are stuffed with a beef and onion mixture along with olives and hard boiled eggs whereas in Cuban culture, it is stuffed with Cuban picadillo. There are also versions of this recipe that incorporate cheese, and the meat can easily be replaced with chicken or ground turkey if you prefer it. 

In Puerto Rico, the recipe incorporates breadcrumbs to help the papa rellenas get a nice crispy coating and the potatoes can even be replaced with plantains to give it a sweet flavor. 

Today, I am going to make my own version of papa rellena by incorporating steps from multiple traditional recipes. 

If you’d like to make some papa rellena for yourself, follow the steps below! 

Recipe

  1. Place a pot of water over medium-high heat. While the water is heating up, peel and roughly chop the potatoes.
  2. Once the water reached a boil, add the potatoes in. Cook until tender.
  3. Remove from the stove and drain. Set aside and let cool completely.
  4. Once cool, add the potatoes to a medium bowl and mash. Add in 1 egg and 1 tbsp of cornstarch. You want a firm dough that will not stick to the palm of your hand when molding. Add a tbsp of cornstarch as needed to reach the correct consistency.
  5. Add a pan to the stove over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add in the onions and bell peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat and all of the seasonings and mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir them into the meat mixture.
  7. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Simmer until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
  8. Lightly coat your palm with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Add about 1 tbsp of the potato mixture to your palm and flatten it into a circle. Add a small scoop of meat. Then, add a piece of mozzarella cheese to the middle.
  9. Grab about another tbsp of the potato mixture and roll into a ball. Coat with breadcrumbs.
  10. Repeat this process until all the papa rellenas are rolled and coated.
  11. Freeze for 1 hour before frying. This helps prevent the dough from falling apart when cooking. It is an optional step, but highly recommended.
  12. Add about 2 inches of oil to a large pan over medium-low heat (do not cook too high as the outside coating can easily burn).
  13. Once the oil is ready, add the papa rellenas to the pan and fry on each side until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Repeat the process with remaining balls.
  14. Let cool and serve with your favorite salsa or crema. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For filling
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cilantro paste/ or fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon seasoning/ or adobo
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil, to sauté
For dough
  • 1 lb russet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
To make
  • Cornstarch
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 4 0z. mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (optional)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

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