Jul 2, 2017

Papas Rellenas (Cuban Potato Balls)

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

Cuban potato balls (Papas Rellenas) are just about the most "comfort-y" of comfort foods around. Think croquettes with a Latino edge marrying Irish potato cakes that just happen to have a spicy meat filling.

Papas Rellenas, in various forms, exist in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. These particular papas rellenas are based on a Cuban recipe, and are filled with Cuban picadillo, a delicious ground beef dish that often includes peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, and other spices, as well as briny olives and/or capers.

Evidently, if you live in Miami, you can easily find these in bakeries and ventanitas (walk up windows). They are so easy to find, that folks in Miami never need to make them at home... not so true in the rest of the country.

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

If you are from Southern California, you are probably aware of Porto's bakery/café. The company, a Cuban family bakery, in existence since 1960, sells the most amazing pastries to raving fans who form lines out the door early every morning. I'd had their incredible pastries when colleagues and students brought them to work and class, but I had no idea about their amazing, killer, delicious potato balls.

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

I have been obsessed with making these ever since one of my students brought some to the last day of a class that I teach. Once I tried one, I had to try making some! (It was really hard to not grab the box of hot Papas Rellenas and tuck them into my bag and take them home).

Note: I have never asked my students to bring treats for everyone on the last day of class. Isn't it cool that they do it on their own?

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

This is the perfect make ahead dish. You can make the picadillo and mashed potatoes in advance and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the Papas Rellenas. In addition, you can assemble the papas rellenos and freeze them until you are ready to fry and serve them. On top of that, the fried papas can be refrigerated and reheated in the oven prior to serving. They are pretty much make-ahead, make-ahead, make-ahead!

You need to try these. They are "jump up and down, I can't believe how good they are," delicious.

Note: You will have a lot of leftover picadillo. It is delicious served with rice. I made the simplest version of the picadillo. You could also add peas, chopped green olives, capers, and/or chopped raisins in small quantities.


Papas Rellanas (Cuban Potato Balls) Recipe

Papas Rellanas (Cuban Potato Balls) Recipe

Ingredients

For the Picadillo:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely chpped
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • Juice of one lime

For the Potatoes:

  • About 3 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 eggs, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 to 2 cups plain bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmery. Add the onions and garlic, and cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the bell peppers to the mixture, and cook until the peppers are softened.
  3. Add the ground beef to the pan and, using a wooden spoon, break up the beef and allow it to cook until browned.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, red wine, and lime juice to the pan, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer the beef to a bowl, set aside, and allow to cool.
  5. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let cool.
  6. Line two quarter sheet pans with parchment paper. Using two tablespoons, or a #30 ice cream scoop, measure out a portion of the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes in your hand, round side down. With your thumb, create an indentation on the flat side of the potatoes.
  7. With a teaspoon, or a #100 measuring scoop, measure out some of the picadillo and drop it into the indentation of the potatoes. Close the potatoes over the picadillo to form a round ball, about the size of a large golf ball. Continue with the rest of the potatoes and picadillo. Place balls onto the parchment lined baking sheets. Refrigerate any leftover meat mixture for other uses.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. In another bowl, place the bread crumbs.
  9. Dip the balls, one at a time, in the egg mixture. Roll in the bread crumbs. Dip again in the egg and roll in the bread crumbs. Place back onto the baking sheets. Repeat with the rest of the potato balls. Refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. You can also freeze now, to be fried later.
  10. When ready to fry, line two large plates with layers of paper towels.
  11. Bring one quart of oil to 375 degrees F in a Dutch oven, or deep fryer. The oil should be deep enough so that each ball will be submerged in the hot oil. Drop about 4 balls into the oil and fry for about 5 minutes, until golden brown, turning frequently until cooked evenly. Transfer to the paper towel lined plate. If serving right away, place them on a rack over a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven. Otherwise, when done frying, refrigerate the cooled potato balls, and reheat in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes when ready to serve.
Yield: 25 balls

This recipe has been inspired by various sites, including The Candid Appetite, Three Guys from Miami, and Bits of Umami

Cuban Papas Rellenas are mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned meat, rolled into a ball, breaded, and then deep fried, resulting in these little packages of pop-able deliciousness.

36 comments:

  1. I love stuffed mashed potato. This sounds so delicious. You have such amazing flavors going in the ground meat. I know it tasted awesome.

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  2. Oh these look so good!! What a delicious appetizer or side..I have to try these soon. Pinning for later!

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  3. This sounds absolutely fantastic! I mean how can you not love fried potato balls!! Recipe saved!!

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  4. Gosh, how perfect and delicious do these Cuban Potato Balls look. No wonder you wanted to eat them all:-)

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  5. These sounds Delish! And they are so cute. I bet they are highly addictive. They remind me of italian rice balls

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    1. I'm going to have to try those too!

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  6. This area my husband's favorite. He is Cuban so papa rellena is a must in my household. Your papas rellenas looks perfect!

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    1. I'm so happy you like them!! Especially since you are so knowledgable.

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  7. One of my faves. I just hate that it takes some work to put together then they go so quickly lolol

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    1. You must take some and stash them away just for you!!

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  8. What a great snack food this is! The Cubans sure know how to eat! Thanks for sharing this recipe

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  9. I want to try this like right now! I've never had a Papas Rellenas before. Looks delicious!

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  10. I grew up eating a version of these, in larger format - my Mom had a person who would come to cook sometimes on weekends. She was a fantastic cook, made pasta from scratch, and one of the things she used to make was "croquetes de batata" - filled with ground beef. It was absolutely spectacular - in those days I could eat several, competing with my Dad for who could eat more. Fun times

    I made them once for my first husband - never for my forever husband. Gotta fix that mistake...

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    1. Gotta fix that! Phil deserves some of these! =)

      Thank goodness these are great for make-ahead.

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  11. oh that picadillo, i can eat it as such and now stuffing it in a potato and deep frying it is soooo sinful!!! totally delicious! Perfect snack anytime!

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  12. WOW! The flavors sound fantastic! I really enjoy different cuisines and the potato surround a spicy meat filling sounds almost to good to be true. Will definitely have to make these.

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    1. I love world cuisines too. Thanks!

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  13. Hi Karen, these look lovely I have never had Cuban potatoes balls, they're almost like Italian rice balls but there's no sirloin steak but there's hamburger in it with a sauce and peas and you put some mozzarella you know no Peppers but that sounds good too they look very interesting, thank you for sharing the recipe.��

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    1. I would love to try Italian rice balls one of these days!

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  14. OMG, I can literally polish that plate all by myself as these Cuban Rellenas look soooo delicious!!! Love how easy the recipe is and I'll definitely try this soon as deep fried goodies are always a Hit at our place.

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  15. Oh, these beauties would definitely be the favourite at any party! Love how some simple ingredients can make such a great appetizer, even my fussy little one would grab a few. I would definitely try this!

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  16. These look so good!!! By coincidence, this month we also shared a recipe with fried mashed potato: Greek style cheesy fritters:) Great mind think alike, right?LOL
    Thanx for the yummy recipe Karen! xoxo

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    1. Oooh, I am definitely going to check out your fried potatoes. The addition of cheese sounds wonderful!

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  17. This is like having hamburger me grounded in your homemade sauce and potatoes chunks of potatoes cooked when the sauce is ready about 2 hours to an hour and a half sore thing and what I do is Karen I mash my potatoes with my hamburger just to taste some on the side when I have left over in some sourdough bread really really good these would be really fantastic actually frying them like a rice ball

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  18. Karen, you're killing me with these! It's been years since I've had them...my best friend's grandmother used to make them and freeze them...which meant us breaking into the freezer whenever we were drunk and stealing them!!! - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

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    1. What a fun memory! Now you can make your own personal stash!

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