Papas Rellenas – Stuffed Potatoes

Papas rellenas (Spanish: stuffed potatoes) are the most popular type of croquettes in Peru and other Latin American countries such as Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The first recorded Latin American recipes were printed in the late 19th century, during a time when French cuisine (among others, e.g. Italian) was influencing those of Latin America.

Peruvian Preparation

The dish is a baked potato dough into which a filling made of chopped beef and onions, whole olives, hard boiled eggs, cumin and other spices is stuffed. Once prepared, the obloid mass is deep fried. Potato flour is often added to give greater consistency to the dough. In Peru, the dish is usually accompanied with a “salsa criolla“, or an aji sauce.

Caribbean variants

They consist in mashed potatoes stuffed with seasoned ground meat, various spices then deep fried. The dish varies in preparation and presentation from country to country. Papas Rellenas are a local favourite in heavily Cuban-populated American cities such as Miami and Tampa, in which the Cuban version consists of potato balls stuffed with seasoned picadillo.

This dish is also extensively consumed in Puerto Rico, where it is called “relleno de papa”. In Puerto Rico papa rellenas are stuffed with cheese, picadillo, or ground meat with cheese. The paps are then coated with raw egg and rolled into cornmeal, corn flour, or bread crumbs.

Papa Rellenas
Papa rellenas are delicious comfort or street food, similar to mashed potato pancakes, but with a surprise of spiced beef mince in the centre. Papa rellenas are also an excellent recipe for using up leftover mashed potatoes.
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ cup raisins or whole black olives
  • 1.3 kg yellow potatoes (in Australia we suggest Desiree potatoes)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced aji pepper, or jalapeno chilli
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 450 g beef mince
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 egg
  • flour, for dusting
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For filling
  1. Place the raisins in a small bowl and pour 1 cup boiling water over them. Let them soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and place them in the pot. Cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, cook the onions, garlic, and peppers or chilli in vegetable oil until soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the cumin and paprika and cook 2 minutes more, stirring. Add the beef mince and cook until browned.
  5. Drain the raisins or olives and add them to the beef mince. Add the beef stock and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more, until most of the liquid is gone.
  6. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool.
For potatoes
  1. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander. Mash the potatoes thoroughly, or pass them through a potato ricer. Season the mashed potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Chill the potatoes for several hours, or overnight.
  2. Once the potatoes are very cold, stir the egg into the mashed potatoes until well mixed.
To make Papa rellenas
  1. With floured hands, place about ¼ cup of mashed potatoes in one hand, and make a well in the centre. Fill the well with 1-2 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Mold the potatoes around the beef, adding more potatoes if necessary, and shape the whole thing into an oblong potato shape, with slightly pointy ends, about the size of a medium potato.
  2. Repeat with the rest of the mashed potatoes. Coat each stuffed "potato" with flour.
  3. In a deep skillet or deep fat fryer, heat 5 cm of oil to 180°C. Fry the potatoes in batches until they are golden brown. Drain them on a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. Keep the potatoes warm in a 90°C oven until ready to serve.

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