Posted on | January 27, 2011 | 7 Comments
A week or so ago, someone sent me a message asking me if I knew what papa rellena was, and if I had a recipe for it.
Papa rellena is Spanish for stuffed potato, and it’s a common appetizer and street food. When the boys were very little, street vendors outside the school would sell papa rellenas in the afternoons. It was our custom to buy one for each boy as an after-school snack, and they would it on the bus on the way home.
The dish itself is Peruvian criollo cuisine and is really nothing much more than a large fried potato croquet stuffed with a ground meat mixture. The traditional recipe calls for a savory filling, with a somewhat unusual list of ingredients. I have read that the inspiration for the plate comes from the empanada (which was brought over by the Spanish) – instead of using the typical pastry crust to put the filling in, the Peruvians said “Hey, we’ve got all these potatoes.. let’s give it a try!”
The basic recipe lends itself to all sorts of experimentation, like using seafood or poultry in place of the ground beef. Today though, we’re going to stick with the basic recipe. Just a little FYI – a potato ricer will be a huge help for this.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup beef broth
- oil for cooking
- 1 large finely diced onion
- 2 aji amarillo, de-seeded, de-veined, finely diced.
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground aji panca (you can substitute paprika)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 5 medium-large potatoes, boiled and cooled, peeled, riced or mashed
- 2-3 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
- pitted black olives (traditional, but optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of oil. Add the onion, aji amarillo, garlic and aji panca (or paprika) and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.
- Add the meat and the raisins, mix well, then pour in the broth.
- Let this cook down until the broth is absorbed – about 10-12 minutes, then give it a taste test. Add salt and pepper as needed.
- Take your potatoes and add a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well by hand, making sure there are no lumps left. It should be a very smooth mixture.
- Form small balls from the potatoes, then flatten out into disk shapes.
- In the center of each potato circle, place a large spoonful of the meat mixture. Add an olive and a piece of hard boiled egg.
- Fold the edges of the potato circle up over the top of the filling and close the edges together. Use your hands to form the mass into a slightly oval shape. (You may want to flour your hands to make this easier)
- Heat a large amount of oil in a deep pot, and fry the papa rellenas until they are golden brown.
- Remove from the oil, and drain on paper towels.
I know this sounds complicated, but it’s really not! To show you that it’s not as hard as it sounds, I’m going to put this video up here – It’s a bit long – you can watch it all if you like, but if you just want to see how they form the potatoes, jump ahead to 3:45. It’s a lot easier to show you how to do it than it is to tell.
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